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Dave Foreman

Memory Against Forgetting: The Story of Judi Bari w/ Earth First!er Karen Pickett

Chapter 36 : A Pipe Bomb Went Rippin’ Through Her Womb

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

“I knew it was a bomb the second it exploded. I felt it rip through me with a force more powerful and terrible than anything I could imagine. It blew right through my car seat, shattering my pelvis, crushing my lower backbone, and leaving me instantly paralyzed. Slumped over in my seat, unable to move, I couldn’t feel my legs, but desperate pain filled my body. I didn’t know such pain existed. I could feel the life force draining from me, and I knew I was dying. I tried to think of my children’s faces to find a reason to stay alive, but the pain was too great, and I couldn’t picture them.”[1]

—Judi Bari’s recollection of the bombing, February 2, 1990.

“I heard a ‘crack’, and my head began to ring like a sitar…like ‘nnnnnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’, and the car came to a screeching halt. The first thought in my mind was, ‘Oh no, not again!’ because last August we had been rear-ended by a logging truck without ever seeing it coming, and here we are again, me and Judi in a car. But this time, my head was bleeding and I knew I had a seat belt on, and I couldn’t figure out how come my head was bleeding if I hadn’t hit the windshield. Then I heard somebody scream out. ‘It’s a bomb, there was a bomb!’ And then it all made sense; somebody had tried to kill us.”[2]

—Darryl Cherney’s account of the bombing, May 24, 1990.

At this point, Cherney looked over at Bari where, “she was slumped in her seat, screaming in pain, but as far as I could tell, her body was in one peace.”[3] Bari recalls only being able to make guttural sounds in an attempt to say “help” and vaguely recalls that Cherney kept repeating “I love you,” to her, and that she was going to live, in spite of what had happened.[4]

The blast distorted Bari’s white 1981 Sabaru GL car’s unibody frame, tore out its left side and sent debris and heavy blue-grey smoke flying into the air. It blew out some of the windows and left a trail of fragments on Park Boulevard.[5] The shattered, smoking car veered 100 feet down the road, clipping parked cars and light poles along the way, and hit another vehicle—a delivery truck driven by 40-year-old Ken Rich from Castro Valley—before coming to a stop against a curb in front of Oakland High School, where students were jogging as part of their physical education class.[6] Had the explosion occurred just forty minutes later, it might have injured the students crossing the road to patronize the local shops for lunch. The nearby public school’s officials would keep the students inside campus buildings for several hours until the blast area was declared safe.[7] Rich’s vehicle then hit a woman pedestrian who had a heart attack.[8] He had happened to have been driving the other way, and noticed the smoke billowing from Bari’s vehicle just before it hit his own.[9]

The explosion startled the workers and owners at nearby businesses. “It sounded like they dropped a bomb from a jet or something,” recalled the manager of a nearby Oil Changers, “the whole street just shook.”[10] One of the garage mechanics, who identified himself as “Charles”, added, “It sounded like a cherry bomb in a tin can. It was pretty loud. I kind of felt it in my body, and I was inside.”[11] Sokhi Dosanjli, the clerk at a local convenience store reported that the smoke was so thick that, “You couldn’t see anything for awhile”, including the nearby MacArthur Freeway.[12]

Shannon Mar was immediately aware that something had gone horribly wrong. Since she was leading the way, she did not immediately see the blast, but she quickly heard it and smelled the residue of explosives. She recalled, “The car shook, heat rushed through the windows, and I smelled sulfur. I looked in the rear-view mirror, and (all I could see was) smoke.” Bari’s car rolled past her own just before hitting Ken Rich’s vehicle and then hitting the curb. Marr immediately came to a stop, exited her car, and ran to Bari’s bombed-out vehicle (where Ken Rich was already standing) to determine the condition of her friends. Marr said, “Judi was stuck in her seat. She kept saying, ‘It hurts. It hurts. I can’t breathe.’ Darryl had a gash over one eye and it was gushing blood.”[13]

Meanwhile, Dave Kemnitzer had fallen slightly behind, but by now he had arrived near the intersection of MacArthur and Park Boulevards. He emerged from his vehicle screaming, “It’s the loggers! The loggers are trying to kill us!” At that moment, Ken Rich ran to Bari’s car and saw Cherney emerge. He recalled, “I’ve been in Vietnam and I’ve seen bombed out cars before. This one took a heavy hit. I’m amazed the people are still alive.”[14] Rich had been trained in first aid, but he described Bari’s car as “so mangled” that he felt it would be more effective, “to let the paramedics treat the victims.” He then recalled Marr running up to him, exclaiming, “They’re my friends!”[15]

Bob Vandemeer, the president of a San Rafael demolitions company, just happened to have been driving behind Bari on his way to an Oakland A’s baseball game.[16] The force of the explosion made him bounce up in the seat of his pickup truck. He then noticed, “a big blue cloud of smoke (which) smelled like gunpowder. (Then) things started falling from the air—parts of (Bari’s) car.”[17] After the explosion, he immediately summoned police from his mobile telephone.[18] He then approached the vehicle where Rich, Marr, and Kemnitzer were congregating. He, like Rich, reported, “(Bari) was unconscious, and sort of smashed up against the door on the driver’s side…As I approached, (Cherney) popped up, bleeding pretty bad all over. He started yelling, “Help! Get me out of here!”[19]

Chapter 18 : The Arizona Power Lines

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

So now I’m a-sitting in prison,
A jump-suit and flip-flops I wear,
I’ll be out with good time by two-thousand and nine,
Hope there’ll still be some old growth back there,
And the man who looked just like Jesus,
He sure ain’t a sharing my cell,
‘Cause he was a spy for the FB of I,
And they busted Dave Foreman as well.

—Lyrics excerpted from, He Looked a Whole Lot Like Jesus by Darryl Cherney and Mike Roselle, 1990.

“I’m proud to be here fac­ing harassment by the FBI. I think I’m here because I’ve been effective in bringing attention to the crisis on this planet…my involvement will be curbed when I’m (lying) in the desert like Ed Abbey.” [1]

—Dave Foreman, June 1989.

Truth be told, by this time Earth First!ers had already been the victims of state repression. COINTELPRO, the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program, a creation of J. Edger Hoover, had been used since the 1950s to infiltrate and disrupt leftist organizations, often through the use of agent provocateurs, ostensibly to prevent a violent overthrow of the US Government. Most of the charges against such groups for any real crimes have either been found to be groundless, or, as in the case of the Black Panthers for example, many of the crimes were orchestrated by the undercover agents themselves in an attempt to discredit the organization. These efforts usually succeeded, and most of these dissident groups were undermined, rendered ineffective, or destroyed utterly. [2] The judgment of history has generally shown these organizations to be innocent of most of the charges against them, and even if they were considered a menace to society at the time, much of what they believed has eventually become mainstream thought, at least to some degree. [3] Yet, COINTELPRO continued after Hoover’s death well into the 1980s. [4]

Many Earth First!ers naïvely assumed they were immune, or at least highly resistant, to infiltration by provocateurs. This was due, they thought, to their lack of formal structure. Earth First! cofounder Mike Roselle likened them to the Yippies, which he’d been part of in his younger days, stating “You couldn’t infiltrate the Yip­pies. It was like infiltrating a marshmallow.” Judi Bari seemed to agree with this pronouncement, declaring, “There was nothing defined. It was a movement with a way of being and a feeling, and our extreme decentrali­zation makes it difficult for the FBI to even under­stand us, much less infiltrate us,” and, it wasn’t as if Earth First! didn’t take steps to minimize the danger. [5] As Greg King stated,

“We do have to get to­gether and plan our actions, and we do have to be clandestine. Often times we have to worry about the phones we use, and sometimes we have to worry about whether we have an infiltra­tor in the group. We don’t worry about it very much, but some­times you can, especially when you’re dealing with such powerful and insidious people as Charles Hurwitz of the Maxxam Group. [6]

Earth First! was soon about to find out that they had much to learn and plenty to worry about.

Chapter 10 : Fellow Workers, Meet Earth First!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

It was inevitable that the two would meet, really. Earth First! was challenging the corporate extraction of resources, but it wasn’t combating it at its source: the point of production. The problem was that the business unions theoretically could, but in practice they would not. They were too invested in their role as junior partners in the capitalist economy, which left them incapable of fighting it. There was only one union in the United States that could, and luckily, it still existed, even if it was but a shadow of its former self.

That the IWW influenced Earth First! is obvious. If the opposite was true in the early days of Earth First!’s existence, it is difficult to say. Initially, there was no direct or textual reference made by the IWW to Earth First! in its official publication, The Industrial Worker, prior to February 1988, although there was a one-time reproduction of one of Mike Roselle’s images (frequently used in the Earth First! Journal’s “dear shit fer brains” letters section), slightly altered and used in the Industrial Worker’s own letters section in September 1983.

The IWW did take note of general environmental struggles and actions within the pages of the Industrial Worker. For example, in the October / November 1980 issue there was a lengthy article titled, “Big Mountain Dine & Hopi Bat­tle Mine Interests”, a struggle which Earth First! supported for many years. In the June 1981 issue included a lengthy article about the Bolt Weevils”—which predate Earth First!, but serve as one of its inspirations—called, “The Power Line Protest in West Central Minnesota”. Earth First!er Roger Featherstone, was once involved in this campaign. There was a similar, uncredited article about this movement, simply called “Bolt Weevils” in the May 1, 1984 issue of the Earth First! Journal. An isolated column (that does not mention Earth First!) called “Ecology Notes” appeared in the Decem­ber 1982 issue. The same column never appeared again, however. By 1983, articles about ecologically oriented workers’ struggles became more and more frequent, but Earth First! was never mentioned, even if Earth First! was involved in the struggle. Meanwhile, the Wobblies were rarely mentioned in the Earth First! Journal except for a few occasional letters from self-identified IWW members, or former members. [1]

Behind the scenes, however, individual Wobblies and Earth First!ers frequently came into contact with each other. Dave Foreman later revealed that he had regularly corresponded with Utah Phillips. Franklin and Penelope Rosemont had also been in contact with Foreman as well as Roger Featherstone, a veteran of several environmental campaign, who described himself as “a roving reporter for Earth First!” [2] In Tacoma, Washington, IWW members Barbara Hansen and Allen Anger lived in an apartment in the same building as the IWW hall along with long time member, and then branch secretary, Ottilie Markholt. They were friends with George Draffan, who had been a member of the IWW when he was in college, long before joining Earth First! in the 1980s. [3] Colorado IWW member and oilfield worker Gary Cox was also sympathetic to Earth First!. Cox had read The Monkeywrench Gang, become a subscriber to the Earth First! Journal, and had attended an Earth First! speaking event by Dave Foreman and Roger Featherstone at the University of Colorado. [4] A handful of IWW members were Earth First!ers themselves, including a musician known as “Wobbly Bob”. [5]

Nevertheless, the first actual mention of Earth First! in the pages of the Industrial Worker touched on the Cameron Road tree spiking and the injury to George Alexander.

Chapter 6 : If Somebody Kills Themselves, Just Blame it on Earth First!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

Haul it to the sawmill, Got to make a buck,
Your blades are worn and dangerous, Better trust your luck,
Don’t stop for the workers’ safety, Never fear the worst,
‘Cause if somebody kills themselves, Just blame it on Earth First!,
L-P…

—Lyrics excerpted from L-P, by Judi Bari, 1990.

“Anybody who ever advocated tree spiking of course has to rethink their position.”

—Darryl Cherney, June 1987.[1]

Earth First! received much negative press for its advocacy of biocentrism, the notion that all species (including humans) were intrinsically valuable. Their slogan “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!” was forceful and militant, and given the misanthropic leanings of some of its cofounders, it was often taken to mean that they valued the lives of nonhuman species above humans—even if it meant the suffering or death of the latter—which wasn’t actually the case. The situation was complicated further by Earth First!’s advocacy of monkeywrenching: industrial “ecotage” which included everything from deflagging roads to putting sugar in the fuel tanks of earth moving and/or logging equipment. Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman described monkeywrenching thusly:

“It is resistance to insanity that is encapsu­lated in Monkeywrenching…(it) fits in with the bioregional concept. You go back to a place and you peacefully re-inhabit it. You learn about it. You become a part of the place. You develop an informal and al­ternative political and social struc­ture that is somehow apart from the sys­tem… it’s also a means of self-empowerment, of finding alternative means of relat­ing to other people, and other life forms…there is a funda­mental difference between ecodefense resistance and classic revolutionary or terrorist behavior.” [2]

Such a description, while informative, was hardly likely to silence critics on the right. The most controversial of these controversial tactics by far, was Earth First!’s advocacy of “tree spiking”, the act of driving large nails into standing trees in order to deter timber sales. [3]

Chapter 5 : No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

“One man, Charles Hurwitz, is going to destroy the largest remaining block of redwoods out of sheer arrogance. Only we the people can stop him.”

—Dave Foreman, October 22, 1986.[1]

Well I come from a long, long line of tree-fallin’ men,
And this company town was here before my grandpappy settled in,
We kept enough trees a-standin’ so our kids could toe the line,
But now a big corporation come and bought us out, got us working double time…

—lyrics excerpted from Where are We Gonna Work When the Trees are Gone?, by Darryl Cherney, 1986.

On the surface, very little seemed to have changed in Scotia for its more than 800 residents, but deep down, they all knew that the future was very much uncertain. Some seemed unconcerned, such as 18 year Pacific Lumber veteran Ted Hamilton, who declared, “We’re just going on as always,” or his more recently hired coworker, millworker Keith Miller, who had been at the company less than six years and who stated, “It doesn’t bother me much.”[2] Indeed, many of the workers seemed to welcome their newfound financial prosperity. [3] However, there were at least as many workers whose assessments were quite pessimistic, including millworker Ken Hollifield, a 19 year veteran who opined, “I’m sure this place won’t be here in five to seven years.” Former millworker and then-current owner of the Rendezvous Bar in Rio Dell, George Kelley, echoed these sentiments stating, “For 2½ years they’ve got a good thing going. After that they don’t know what’s happening.” Dave Galitz dismissed the naysayers’ concerns as typical fear of change, but careful estimates of the company’s harvesting rates bore out the pessimistic assessments. In the mills and the woods, however, production had increased substantially, to the point that many were working 50 and 60 hours per week. If there was to be any organized dissent, it would be difficult to keep it together, because the workers had little time to spare.[4] There seemed to be little they could do outside of a union campaign, and the IWA had neither been inspiring nor successful in their attempt.

Deep in the woods however, the changes were readily obvious. In 1985, the old P-L had received approval from the California Department of Forestry (CDF) to selectively log 5,000 acres.[5] With John Campbell at the helm, under the new regime, the company filed a record number of timber harvest plans (THPs) immediately following the sale, and all of them were approved by the CDF. There was more than a hint of a conflict of interest in the fact that the director of the agency, Jerry Pertain, had owned stock in the old Pacific Lumber and had cashed in mightily after the merger. [6] Since the takeover, the new P-L had received approval to log 11,000 acres, 10,000 of which were old growth, and there was every indication that these timber harvests would be accomplished through clearcutting.[7] Pacific Lumber spokesmen who had boasted about the company’s formerly benign forest practices now made the dubious declaration that clearcutting was the best method for ensuring both long term economic and environmental stability.

P-L forester Robert Stephens claimed that the old rate was unsustainable anyway, declaring, “About five years ago, it became apparent that there is going to be an end to old-growth. We simply cannot operate on a 2,000 year rotation.”

Public affairs manager David Galitz repeated what would soon become the new regime’s gospel, that clearcutting had actually been in the works for some time before the hint of a merger, even though in actual fact, this was untrue.

Pacific Lumber’s logging operations which had hitherto been idyllic by comparison now outpaced those of even Louisiana-Pacific and Georgia-Pacific. They tripled their logging crews, bringing in loggers from far away who had never known the old Pacific Lumber and had no particular loyalty to the fight to prevent Hurwitz’s plunder of the old company. [8] Most of the new hires were gyppos, and there were rumblings among the old timers that the quality of logging had decreased precipitously. In John Campbell’s mind, such inefficiencies were likely to be temporary and any small losses that occurred were more than offset by the much larger short term gain. The expense to the viability of the forest, however, was never entered into the ledger.[9] One resident who lived very close to the border of Pacific Lumber’s land relayed their impressions, writing:

“I live at the end of (the) road in Fortuna. Maxxam’s Pacific Lumber logging trucks drive by our house six days a week now. (It has) never been like this in the past. Ordinarily, logging was five days a week in summer…

“From Newberg Road you can look up and see the damage they are doing to the badly eroding hills, now bare of third growth. They are logging third growth from their graveled road now. As the trucks come by, it is amazing to see how small their (logs are), like flagpoles.

“What will be the value of their property when all of the trees are gone? Are they trying to eliminate all other competition—L-P, Simpson, etc.—as their long-range goal?”[10]

Environmentalists expressed alarm and outrage at the sweeping and regressive changes that had been instituted now that Hurwitz had assumed control of Pacific Lumber. John DeWitt, executive director of Save the Redwoods League, the organization that had been instrumental in coaxing the Murphy Dynasty to adopt sustainable logging practices in the first place, expressed these fears stating, “We thought they practiced excellent forestry over the past 125 years and deplore the fact they’ll double the cut. It may result in the ultimate unemployment of those who work at Pacific Lumber.”

Red/Brown Warnings: A Review of Peter Staudenmaier, “Ecology Contested: Environmental Politics Between Left and Right”

By Spencer Sunshine - It's Going Down, February 23, 2023

The increasing embrace by White Supremacists of environmentalism, which they use to justify their racist ideologies—dubbed “ecofascism”—is on the lips of many today. This has been driven by its mention in the manifestos connected to White Supremacist massacres in El Paso, Texas and Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019; between the two, 74 were murdered. Additionally, the new interest paid by fascists in Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, also shows rising interest in this trend.

Because of this, historian and anarchist Peter Staudenmaier’s book is a timely reminder that ecofascism is not just not a new problem, but also one that provides a bridge between the far-Right and the Left and anarchists. His book is a call, in the best radical environmental style, to blockade that bridge and stop fascists from entering radical circles.

Since the early 1990s Staudenmaier has been associated with the Institute for Social Ecology (ISE). The school was co-founded in 1974 by anarchist theoretician Murray Bookchin, and is best known for promoting what he dubbed social ecology—a fusion of Hegelianized Marxism, classical anarchism, and ecological thought. But ISE members have also been some of the earliest to warn anarchists about the danger of Red/Brown politics, especially in the radical environmental movement.

For example, Staudenmaier co-authored the 1995 book Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience with Janet Biehl. His half was one of the first treatments in English documenting the “green wing” of the original Nazi Party, clearly showing how the fascist embrace of environmentalism has a long history and impeccable pedigree. But—especially in the context of Bookchin’s occasionally injudicious, and sometimes downright vicious, attacks on rival radical environmental currents—Ecofascism was controversial when it was published. Today it stands as a prescient warning of what was to come.

(The term “ecofascism” itself is muddy because of the different ways it’s invoked. Staudenmaier, following the clear understanding of different far-Right factions which antifascist work requires, uses it to refer to genuine fascists who embrace environmentalism. Other leftists use it to refer to all right-wingers who oppose environmentalism. Meanwhile, many conservatives use it to smear environmentalists themselves!)

Ecology Contested is yet another warning about the thriving postwar ecofascist currents. In the increasingly crowded field of writings about this subject, Staudenmaier’s book stands out by its focus on the relationship between the Left and Right on environmentalism, but also anti-tech and animal rights politics. He does so by showing their overlapping theoretical, but also in some cases existing political, relationships. Like his 1995 book, Ecology Contested is sure to ruffle feathers. Some may even see it less as a warning of potential right-wing incursions and more as an attack on their own politics.

Why You Can't Ignore This Far-Right Trend

IWW WISERA Environmental Committee and NARA IWW EUC Reading Group 1: Judi Bari, "Revolutionary Ecology"

Fellow Workers (and fellow travelers, too!)

We are inviting you to the inaugural session of our monthly, online reading group dedicated to discussing the work of and writings by IWW Organiser and Earth First! environmental activist Judi Bari.

The first text we will be reading is Revolutionary Ecology by Judi Bari, herself, written in 1993 at the height of her involvement in the struggles in northwestern California's old growth redwood forests.

You can read online or download a PDF of the text here: https://ecology.iww.org/texts/JudiBari/Revolutionary%20Ecology

You may also download a PDF of this document if you wish.

This meeting will be held on zoom.  Register here.

An Ambiguous Paradise Built in Hell

By Dan Fischer - New Politics, January 7, 2023

Book Review of: Dilar Dirik, The Kurdish Women’s Movement: History, Theory, Practice (London: Pluto Press, 2022).

On November 20th, Turkey launched Operation Claw-Sword, a large-scale campaign of drone attacks killing civilians and militants in the predominantly Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq.1 Then, in Paris on December 23rd, a shooter murdered three Kurds in a disturbing echo of the city’s 2013 shooting that killed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)’s co-founder Sakine Cansız and two other women.

While the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) suspended military cooperation with Washington, not for the first time, in protest of the assaults that the United States has allowed fellow NATO member Turkey to carry out, Parisian Kurds have also protested en masse against Western complicity in their people’s extermination. Some youths have set cars and garbage bins aflame, echoing the city’s yellow vests insurrections of recent years as well as the ongoing feminist uprisings in Iran where protesters, including non-Kurds, have adopted the Kurdish slogan of “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

Just as world leaders abandoned Jews during the Holocaust, and have kept Bashar al-Assad’s genocidal regime in power (as my co-author Javier Sethness and I previously argued in News and Letters, and as Omar Sabbour argued in these pages), they’ve also systematically approached the Kurds, the world’s largest stateless nation,2 from a deeply realpolitik position. For example, after infamously green-lighting Saddam Hussein’s massacre of Iraq’s Kurds and Shiites in 1991, Washington sent weaponry to Turkey throughout the 1990s enabling the deaths of tens of thousands. Although Washington has militarily supported the SDF since 2015 and has provided air cover in their attacks on ISIS strongholds, committing and covering up war crimes in the process, the United States’ leadership has no intention of permanently supporting Kurdish groups’ direct-democratic experiment of Rojava.

Moscow, meanwhile, has boosted its energy ties with Ankara and has entertained talks about Turkish use of Syrian airspace to bomb Kurdish towns, and, even more ominously, orchestrated a Erdoğan-Assad rapprochement that will likely spell catastrophe for Syrian Kurdish autonomy. Communities of various ethnicities have protested across Northern Syria in late December and early January. One of their concerns has been that Turkey will return Syrian refugees into the hands of the Assad regime.

Sadly, some loud and well-funded elements of the global left have for several years aided (what Leila al-Shami and Noam Chomsky among other signatories have criticized as) an “‘anti-imperialism’ of fools” which joins in the multipolar abandonment of the Kurds, Arabs and other Southwest Asian ethnicities and peoples. Such propagandists, along with right-wing allies, have tragically joined in the imperialist powers’ divide-and-conquer techniques, facilitating ethnic war, and have been complicit in the destruction of perhaps the brightest revolutionary hope since 1994’s Zapatista uprising. In this context, I write a bit hastily and imperfectly—but enthusiastically—to recommend Dilar Dirik’s study of Kurdish women’s resistance movements. It does not tell the whole story by any means, but it tells enough of the story to invite readers to take the nuanced and messy stance that Kurdish anarchist Zaher Baher has summarized: “Our attitude towards Rojava must be critical solidarity.”

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