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Redwood Summer

Community Under Siege

Speech given by Judi Bari at the Cinco de Mayo/May 5th gathering in Booneville, California. Footnotes added by Jym Dyer - republished in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, May 8, 1991

I came of age during the Vietnam era, and I’ve known for a long time that the system is enforced by violence. Some of my earliest political experiences were of 20-year-old national guardsmen beating my 18-year-old non-violent friends senseless and bloody. I didn’t think I had any delusions about how thin the veneer of civility is in this country. But I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for the sheer horror of being bombed and maimed while organizing for Redwood Summer last year.

The bombing represented the end of innocence for our movement. Sure, we had seen violence before, but this was different. The logger who broke Mem Hill’s nose, the log truck driver who ran me off the road — themselves victims of the timber industry — in the heat of the moment, took their anger out on us. But whoever put that bomb in my car was a cold and premeditated killer. And the FBI’s attempt to frame me and Darryl [Cherney] for the bombing made us realize what we are up against. Not only are they willing to use lethal force to protect their “right” to level whole ecosystems for private profit, they are also backed by the full power of the government’s secret police.

The man in charge of my and Darryl’s case at the FBI is Richard W. Held, chief of the San Francisco office. He went on TV last summer to say that Darryl and I were the only suspects in the bomb attack that nearly took my life. Richard Held became notorious in the 1970’s for his active role in COINTELPRO, an outrageous and illegal FBI program to disrupt and destroy any group that challenged the powers-that-be.

COINTELPRO’s method was to foment internal discord in activist groups, isolate and discredit them, terrorize them, and assassinate their leaders. The best known example of this was Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was murdered by the FBI as he slept in his bed in a Chicago apartment in 1969. And there were many, many others.

But back to Richard Held, the man in charge of my bombing case. His personal role in COINTELPRO began in the early 70’s in Los Angeles, where he ordered insulting cartoons to be drawn and sent, supposedly from one faction to another, among the L.A. Black Panthers. This heated up antagonisms between the factions so much that, with a little help from FBI infiltrators, they erupted into shooting wars that left two Panthers dead.

Held was also on hand in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in 1975 to help direct the FBI’s reign of terror against the American Indian Movement (AIM). In this case the FBI took advantage of existing divisions in the native community to hook up with a vigilante groups called GOONS, or Guardians of the Oglala Nation. These local thugs were armed by the FBI and guaranteed that they would not be prosecuted for crimes against AIM members. They attacked over 300 AIM people and killed 70 of them. Not one of these crimes was solved because, said the FBI, they “didn’t have enough manpower.” The Pine Ridge campaign ended with a military sweep of the reservation by 200 SWAT trained agents, and with the framing and jailing of Leonard Peltier.

The Sierra Club Surrender

By Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 20, 1991

Things got a little out of hand here in the redwood region last year. People chaining themselves to logging equipment, throwing themselves in front of bulldozers, or marching 2000 strong through Fort Bragg shouting "Earth First! Profits Last!" A local grassroots forestry reform initiative gaining statewide support and almost passing (but for the sabotage of the big money men, who are ultimately all on the same side). Lawsuits flying. Yellow ribbons waving. Fellerbunchers self-igniting and burning in the woods. Earth First!ers swimming in Harry Merlo's hot tub. Me getting bombed and not having the audacity to die. It was not an easy year for the timber companies. They managed to get out a record timber harvest, but at the expense of public opinion. Word got out that they are slaughtering the redwoods, and it's become a national, even international issue.

So the timber companies say they want to negotiate. They recognize that timber reform is inevitable, and they want to avoid another "costly initiative." They're afraid to even say the R-word, Redwood Summer, but you can be sure the protests are just as much on their minds. Anyway, in order to appear to negotiate without having to worry about actually changing their greedy timber practices, the money men have chosen Sierra Club State Rep Gail Lucas to represent the environmentalists. Lucas has little support, even among Sierra Club members. She sure doesn't represent the people who wrote the Forests Forever initiative, organized the Redwood Summer protests, or filed the grassroots lawsuits. Lucas' salary as a negotiator is being paid by money man Hal Arbit. And from the results of her negotiations, it looks like Gail Lucas is a better representative of Sierra Pacific then Sierra Club. Here are some of the key provisions of the "Forest Policy Agreement:"

Enviro-Unionists

A Speech by Jess Grant; transcribed by Brian Wiles-Heap from video – Industrial Worker, November 1990

Web editor's note: the following speech was given at a rally jointly organized by Earth First! and the IWW as part of Redwood Summer, held at the L-P export dock in Samoa, California, on June 20, 1990.

I’ll go ahead and introduce myself. I’m an “outside agitator” named Jess Grant. I’m an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the Wobblies.

I like to think of myself as an enviro-unionist. That’s a new word I made up for Redwood Summer. An “enviro-unionist” is somebody who is concerned with trees and forests, and the people who live and work in them. And that’s what we all are, I think; that’s sort of the twin goal of this thing.

I’d like to talk about the ecological and the social costs of the current practices of the timber industry: The companies have tried to pit one against the other; they’ve tried to pit the workers against the environmentalists. It’s the classic divide-and-conquer tactic. But it’s not going to work, because I think we’re all starting to realize that the interests of both the workers and the forest ecosystems are best served by sustainable-yield logging and a worker-community buyout of the timber companies.

Now, you’ll be hearing these two phrases a lot. You’re going to hear this “sustained-yield logging” and “worker-community buyout”, so I’d like to briefly explain what they mean to me:

Sustained-yield logging is cutting at a rate lower than the growth rate, so that the trees can grow back and we can have some forests again. Given the past devastation, we now actually need to cut less than is growing, to catch up with what we’ve done.

A worker-community buyout is pretty self-explanatory. The companies are motivated by profit; they’ll always clearcut, because that’s where the profit is. But if the power and the decision-making are put into the hands of those doing the work, logging would convert to sustainable yield, because the folks doing the work recognize that their long-term job security lies in preserving and sustaining the forests.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

By Judi Bari – Anderson Valley Advertiser, September 26, 1990

In case anyone still had any delusions about freedom of the press in Mendocino County, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat laid them to rest last week when they removed Ukiah Bureau Chief Mike Geniella from covering timber issues. Geniella has been the lead reporter in the timber region, and has broken important stories and won awards for his coverage. Removing him was an outrageous act of censorship, and marked a new low in corporate media kowtowing to big timber.

Geniella’s crime was that he gave an interview to the Anderson Valley Advertiser in which he told the truth about Redwood Summer. “Clearly Redwood Summer accomplished a number of things,” admitted Geniella. “Earth First! used to attract 30 or 40 people here on the steps of the Court House, so bringing 2000 to a rally in Fort Bragg is quite impressive. The sensational aspect of the bombing [of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney], I’m convinced, having been to some of the colleges, frightened some of the people away. For Redwood Summer to be able to regroup and do Samoa, which I think was absolutely critical, and to pull it off like they did, and then go do Fort Bragg, well, you have to give them a lot of credit…There was all this talk about violence and when the test came clearly it was the Redwood Summer people who kept the lid on.” Geniella also admitted that the Press Democrat’s coverage of the Fort Bragg action “probably was unfair.”

That’s it. That’s the worst of what he said. Of course, the fact that he said it in the big bad Anderson Valley Advertiser didn’t help matters. But the real irony of the Press Democrat’s actions is that, while still holding naive ideas about his right to free speech off the job, Mike Geniella had already caved in to timber industry pressure on the job. His reporting on timber issues, once among the most fair and hard-hitting around, had been watered down to satisfy his editors’ pro­timber bias. The last piece he wrote before being pulled off timber issues was a blatant piece of industry propaganda titled “Foresters Contend Logging in Balance.” It cited 53 professional foresters, “all of whom work in the private sector in Mendocino County,” claiming that there is no over­cut here. By calling them “private sector” instead of “corporate” foresters he gives the impression that they are independent. He never asks the simple question of who they work for (which in Mendo County is usually L-P or G-P), or why, if there’s no overcut, are they logging six-inch pecker poles.

Geniella also sacrificed truth in reporting to brown-nose his editors in his Redwood Summer wrap-up piece. You won’t find any of his legitimate praise of EF! organizers in this article. Instead he starts out. “Redwood Summer, the series of logging protests christened by a violent explosion, is set to end this week.” The implication, of course, is that EF! was the cause of the explosion, not the victim. No further explanation is given, and when he gets into listing acts of violence associated with Redwood Summer he omits the bombing entirely and bends over backward to make it look like both sides were violent. His description of the incident with Pacific Lumber President John Campbell was absolutely fraudulent. “Campbell said protesters rocked his car and pounded their fists on rolled up windows as he tried to leave,” wrote Geniella. “The timber executive later described the experience as ‘very frightening.’” What Geniella didn’t write was that Campbell had picked up protester Bob Serena on the hood of his car as Campbell attempted to break through the picket line, and that Campbell then floored it and careened down the road with Serena clinging for his life to the car hood. “That’s called balanced reporting,” Geniella answered when I complained to him about the inaccuracy.

There are many other examples of Geniella and other reporters engaging in self-censorship this summer by failing to write about attacks on demonstrators and, especially in August, failing to cover our demos at all. But even compromising his integrity in his reporting was not enough for Geniella’s editors. They want to shut him up in his private life too. What this really shows is what a hoax any claim of objective reporting is. No reporter has ever been disciplined for being “too close” to Harry Merlo or Charles Hurwitz. Geniella describes a reporter’s job as having a front row seat on the parade of life. But when you are dealing with forces as ruthless and powerful as big timber, there are no seats. We are all in the parade. And Geniella’s complicity in distorting and suppressing info about the success of our demos and the viciousness of attacks on us helped contribute to the atmosphere in which he could become the next victim of the Timber Wars. First they come for the Earth First!ers, then they come for the reporters.

Labor and Ecology

By Chris Clarke - Ecology Center Newsletter [Terrain], September 1990

If you were to believe the headlines found in major newspapers these days, you might decide that the majority of the environmental activists don‟t care much about people‟s economic needs, and that most employed people are concerned only with their paycheck, and let the ecosystem be damned. From the anti-wilderness advocates in Northwest California, to the defense contractors in Pasadena (California) who bemoan peace's price in unemployment, to the steelworkers in Lackawanna, New York, who blame environmental restrictions for their closed steel mill (and consequent breathable air), to the self-styled “environmental President” (George Bush Sr.) who waters down the Endangered Species Act with economic mitigation, a chorus of seemingly disparate voices contends that the interests of labor must counterbalance the interests of the environment.

We all want to be able to work for a living, right? And any compassionate person watching the “six o‟clock news” who sees these honest, hardworking people beset by the concerns of “tie-dyed (or Italian suited) long hairs from the big cities (all on welfare or defaulted student loans) who value animals and trees more than the livelihoods and tax-paying ability of middle America” probably feels a great deal of well-placed sympathy for these workers. But are the concerns of labor and environmentalists really at odds? Don‟t both groups have some common ground?

Astute observers will point out that most of this so-called conflict is based on a limited perception of reality, one which ignores the existence of the people who benefit from this conflict. The giant logging companies care not one whit about the welfare of either the logger or the tree unless than welfare has a positive effect on their profit margin. Oil companies will fight new demands by workers with the same ferocity that they fight restrictions on oil leasing on marine sanctuaries. And it‟s worth pointing out that Judi Bari, one of the two victims of an assassination attempt in Oakland in May 1990 [was] both a union organizer and environmental activist—both activities not exactly guaranteed to endear one to the people in power. There‟s a common enemy, in other words, that both labor and the environment share. And where there‟s a common enemy, there is usually common ground.

Bertrand Russell once stated that there are two types of labor: the expenditure of human energy to alter an object‟s form or position relative to other objects; and the telling of someone else to do so. Taking things at their most basic level, labor can be defined as the expenditure of human energy to achieve some intended purpose, whether that be physical or mental energy. Humans take in food, which is a product of the biosphere, we metabolize that food, producing energy, and that energy is harnessed as labor. In years past, labor was often supplied by other animals as well as humans; under ideal circumstances, a nonpolluting, renewable resource. (please note that I don‟t mean to be reductionist, defining people‟s work as a resources—but more on that later.) Labor is a part of the bio-sphere, then, deriving energy from the environment and functioning, except in the case of the labor of astronauts, wholly within the biosphere.

Seen in this light, it becomes a little harder to understand how the interests of human labor can be divorced from the interests of the biosphere at large and for human labor to set itself against environmental protection seems as counterproductive as if the rainforest were to challenge the legal rights of the North Slope. When systems are so interconnected, a disruption of one system must necessarily affect the other. Air-borne pollutants from the Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna caused extreme cancer rates among the workers living nearby. Deforestation in the tropics causes flooding in settlements downstream. Smog-laden air in the Los Angeles Basin produces chronic health problems for the workers who live there. One might make a rather Machiavellian case for environmental protection, then, on the grounds that only in a healthy environment can one obtain full value from human labor otherwise, the laborers suffer diseases and injuries that interfere with their peak efficiency. This argument, however implies a rather bleak social structure in which labor is seen only as a resource for extraction, and not as something with inherent rights worth protecting for their own sake. In other words, it assumes a social structure pretty much like the one we have today.

Workers, Corporations, and Redwood Summer: Whose Side Are We On?

Judi Bari, et. al, Redwood Summer Coalition – from the Redwood Summer Handbook, second edition, ca June 1990

When you’re sitting in front of a bulldozer or walking a picket line and an angry logger is screaming at you to “Get a Job!” and “Go Home!,” it’s easy to forget that timber workers are not our enemies. And when they see thousands of college students and other environmental activists from out of the area coming to the Northcoast threatening their livelihoods (as they see it), it’s easy for them to see us as the enemy too.

This is a tragic mistake, for workers and environmentalists are natural allies. Loggers and mill-workers are victimized by the giant timber companies. Since their whole way of life—their jobs, homes, families—depends on unsustainable forest practices, we must make the timber companies pay for the education, retraining and job placement needed to cushion the blow of conversion to ecologically health timber practices. It’s easy for us—since our future and our kids’ future does not depend on continued over-logging—to demand others to sacrifice for the good of the planet, but without concrete support to make change possible; they will not listen seriously.

Over the years, timber workers have been subject to some of the most dangerous working conditions in the country, as well as speedups, low pay, low/no benefits, and near-total company control over their lives. Fighting to better their conditions, Pacific Coast loggers and millworkers have a long history of militant unionism. The logging camps of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia were strongholds of the Industrial Workers of the World. Early timber unions, including the IWA (International Woodworkers of America) were radical unions, and often led bitter strikes which the corporations violently put down. From early on, the woodsworkers witnessed and protested the destruction of streams, hillsides and forests caused by company practices of maximizing profit at the expense of both the land and the workers. Indeed, the workers knew better than anyone what was going on in the woods, but lacked the power to stop it. In our capitalist “free market” economy, it is companies, not workers who control production.

Northern California Earth First! Renounces Tree Spiking

Text of a Press Conference held April 11, 1990 at the Louisiana Pacific Mill, Samoa, California - Reprinted the Country Activist, June 1990, Earth First! Journal, Beltane (May 1), 1990, and abridged in the Mendocino Commentary, April 12, 1990

Web Editor's Note: The following introduction appeared in the Earth First! Journal alone:

In a move that has left some EF!ers confused or dismayed, several West Coast Earth First! groups have renounced tree-spiking. At press conferences held in mid April, the groups called upon activists to refrain from spiking trees in northern California and Oregon forests. This whole issue is very controversial…and we do not intend to cover the inevitable debate in EF! Journal. Below we simply reprint Northern California EF!’s press release—so that EF!ers will know what the groups actually said, not just what the rumors are saying—and, we urge interested EF!ers to contact the groups and individuals involved for more information. For a compelling letter in opposition to the tree­spiking renunciation, write Colorado EF! contact Michael Robinson. For arguments in support of the renunciation, contact North Coast EF! groups or Southern Willamette EF!

Text of the Tree Spiking Renunciation

In response to the concerns of loggers and mill-workers, Northern California Earth First! organizers are renouncing the tactic of tree spiking in our area. Through the coalitions we have been building with lumber workers, we have learned that the timber corporations care no more for the lives of their employees than they do for the life of the forest. Their routine maiming and killing of mill workers is coldly calculated into the cost of doing business, just as the destruction of whole ecosystems is considered a reasonable by-product of lumber production.

These companies would think nothing of sending a spiked tree through a mill, and relish the anti-Earth First! publicity that an injury would cause.

Since Earth First! is not a membership organization, it is impossible to speak for all Earth First!ers. But this decision has been widely discussed among Earth First!ers in our area, and the local sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of renouncing tree-spiking. We hope that our influence as organizers will cause any potential tree-spikers to consider using a different method. We must also point out that we are not speaking for all Earth First! groups in this pronouncement. Earth First! is decentralized, and each group can set its own policies. A similar statement to this one renouncing tree spiking is now being made in Southern Oregon, but not all groups have reached the broad consensus we have on this issue.
But in our area, the loggers and mill workers are our neighbors, and they should be our allies, not our adversaries. Their livelihood is being destroyed along with the forest. The real conflict is not between us and the timber workers, it is between the timber corporation and our entire community.

We want to give credit for this change in local policy to the rank and file timber workers who have risked their jobs and social relations by coming forward and talking to us. This includes Gene Lawhorn of Roseburg Lumber in Oregon, who defied threats to appear publicly with Earth First! organizer Judi Bari. It also includes the Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific, and Pacific Lumber employees who are members of IWW Local #1 in northern California.

Equipment sabotage is a time-honored tradition among industrial workers. It was not invented by Earth First!, and it is certainly not limited to Earth First! even in our area. But the target of monkey wrenching was always intended to be the machinery of destruction, not the workers who operate that machinery for $7/hour. This renunciation of tree spiking is not a retreat, but rather an advance that will allow us to stop fighting the victims and concentrate on the corporations themselves.”

Earth First! Replies to Critics

By Judi Bari – Santa Rosa Press Democrat, April 10, 1990

Charges against Earth First! have been flying lately. Spearheaded by Louisiana-Pacific, state Sen. Barry Keene, and International Woodworkers of America union representative Don Nelson.

They accuse us of being somehow responsible for L-P’s recent decision to lay off 195 workers because of the “hostile political climate” we have supposedly created on the North Coast, and they accuse of us provoking violence with our call for a “Mississippi Summer” of mass nonviolent protest to save the redwoods.

This type of doublespeak seriously misrepresents the very real and intense struggle that is going on in the redwood region. It is time to set the record straight.

First, the L-P layoffs. It’s getting harder and harder to convince the people up here that environmentalists are to blame for the cruel business practices of the timber corporations. When L-P opened its redwood milling operation in Mexico it showed us how little it cares for employees or our community. If L-P officials can get people to work for $85 cents an hour in Mexico instead of the $7 an hour they pay at the Ukiah mill, then that’s where they’re going to send the trees and jobs.

But this latest round of layoffs reflects an even more disturbing trend at L-P. If you drive the back roads of Mendocino County and see the miles of clearcuts you will know the truth—L-P has overcut the forest and destroyed the timber base.

According to the Mendocino County Forest Advisory Committee, L-P is cutting at more than twice the rate of growth in our county’s forests. This area was once the heart of the redwood ecosystem. But there is almost no old growth left in Mendocino County, and the second growth is going fast.

In 1975, the Oswald Report predicted that, if harvest rates continued, a sharp fall-down in saw-timber supply would hit in 1990. Young stands would be growing but there wouldn’t be enough mature trees to keep the area’s mills going. This prediction was right on target, but no one predicted L-P’s unconscionable response to the problem.

Rather than slowing down to save the trees and jobs, L-P kept cutting at full throttle. And instead of letting the remaining young stands mature, L-P’s President Harry Merlo began a policy of “logging to infinity,” or taking all trees regardless of size. Those that are too small to saw are chipped up and sent to pulp mills.

Environmentalism and Labor: Bridging the Gap

Speech given by Gene Lawhorn at the Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference (ELAW) in Eugene Oregon, March 4, 1990

I have been working in the wood products industry here in Oregon for five years. I started out at West-brook Wood Products in Norway. I injured my wrist on the job and had to have surgery. Shortly after I returned to work I was laid off out of seniority when they curtailed a shift. This was my first experience with the caring benevolence of the timber industry towards their workers.

After several months of unemployment I got hired at International Paper’s Gardner sawmill. About a year before I got hired the workers were forced to take wage cuts amounting to $3 an hour. The Reedsport City Council and the Chamber of Commerce got behind I-P because they threatened to close the mill if workers didn’t take wage cuts. But if workers would take cuts, I-P promised to return the wages in the next contract and they promised to be around at least another 20 years. In December of 1987, 1½ years after the pay cuts and false promises, I-P gave its 400 employees a Christmas present of one week’s notice of permanent plant closure due to selling the mill to Bohemia Lumber Co. This was my second experience with the caring benevolence of the timber industry.

After four months of unemployment I got hired by Roseburg Forest Products and relocated to Sutherlin. After eight months on the job I got my third experience of the caring benevolence of the timber industry towards workers when we were forced to go on strike to keep from taking wage cuts amounting $1.50 an hour. In a four month long (and very bitter) strike we ended up taking a $0.60 wage cut (lost) three (paid) holidays, Sunday overtime, and lost vacation time.

It was during the strike that I started to become vocal about environmental issues when I took notice all the cars and trucks that crossed my picket line had one thing in common. They all were displaying the yellow timber industry support ribbon. To many of us who stood on the picket line the yellow ribbon became a symbol of the scabs and the timber industry greed. Even today—a year after the strike—only a small handful of RFP workers will display the yellow ribbon.

The strike became a real eye opener for me, so I began to study the environmental issues. The more I learned the more frightened and concerned I became. The poisoning of the rivers, lakes, and oceans; the pollution of the atmosphere, depletion of the ozone layer, the advancing of the greenhouse effect, and the rape and plunder of the world’s ancient rainforest all alarmed me, and I began to see that all these things are tied to the profit motive mentality which cut our wages. I became fully aware that workers and environmentalists have more in common than workers and employers. For the sake of the great and holy profit motive of laissez faire capitalism workers and the environment are both being exploited beyond their means to cope, especially in third world developing nations.

IWA Rank-and-File Union Millworkers Reply: Victims of G-P’s Fort Bragg Mill PCP Spill Speak Out

Written by Ron Atkinson, Cheryl Jones, Joe Valdao, Julie Wiles, and Treva VandenBosch
Edited by Judi Bari - Anderson Valley Advertiser, December 13, 1989, Mendocino Commentary, December 14, 1989 and the Industrial Worker, January 1990.

Web Editor's Note: all of these workers authorized Judi Bari and the IWW to represent them before OSHA hearings that soon followed.

Judi Bari’s Introduction: Unionism was hard won in the Pacific Northwest. In the early 1900’s, the IWW stepped in where the AFL feared to tread, and broke the stranglehold of the timber barons on the loggers and mill workers. The companies and the government fought back with terror and bru-tality eventually crushing the IWW and settling instead for the more cooperative “Business Unions”.

Today these unions have stood by and watched the erosion of the gains the people fought so hard to win. The following statement from five workers at the Georgia-Pacific mill in our area shows the situation timber workers are in today, both from the companies and the “Business Unions”.

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