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Labor History: The Centralia Massacre

By Richard Mellor - Facts For Working People, January 7, 2017

Facts For Working People is grateful to Esther Barnett Goffinet for sharing  her father's story about the Centralia Massacre that took place in Centralia Washington in November 1919. Ripples Of A Lie tells of Eugene Barnett's life and how he came to witness these important events in US labor history. There is also contact information for those who wish to purchase the book.

When the American Legion attacked the [IWW] union hall in Centralia, Washington on November 11, 1919, it was the first time in history the union men fought back, leaving four soldiers dead. Innocent and unarmed, union man Eugene Barnett stood in the window of the hotel next door, a witness who could not be allowed to talk. “We know you had nothing to do with this,” the prosecutor said, “but unless you keep your mouth shut, we’re gonna send you up.”

Ripples of a Lie is a biographical/labor history of my father, Eugene Barnett. Written as a narrative that makes history come alive, it is the only book available that tells the true story of the Centralia Massacre and the aftermath. The only book written by a family member of the prisoners, from the prisoner’s perspective, and the only book written by someone who actually knew those involved. It is 468 pages not counting the index and bibliography, and has 96 pictures with footnotes so facts can be checked. It is academic quality and every word is true.

Born in the mountains of North Carolina to poor share croppers, Gene was the oldest of eight children. His father was also working as a carpenter making five cents per day. Encouraged by the promise of “good pay and good schools” for the children, Gene’s father moved the family to West Virginia to become a coal miner. The “good pay” was 50 cents a day for 14 hours work, 200 feet under-ground, in deplorable conditions. In many families the children starved to death while their fathers worked those long hard hours. They could expect to lose at least one in four children.

In most families, like mine, the oldest children were sent to work to help support the family. Some working children were as young as five years old. They were rock-pickers, hired to pick rocks off the rail tracks inside the mine so rail cars wouldn’t wreck. Many children died in accidents, those who didn’t were treated very cruelly, beaten by the guards if they stopped to play, or didn’t produce the work expected. This left a lasting impression on my father. Eugene Barnett was not quite eight years old when he was sent to work in the mines. As one of the “older children” he was a trapper boy, opening and closing a big tarp to keep air in the mine.

When my father ran away from home at age 14 he had already worked 6 years under-ground. By then his sisters, ages 10 and 12, were working in a laundry ironing sheets in a hot steamy room with no ventilation. They too, worked 14-hour days, 6 days in a row, for which they were paid $3 a week.

Gene met Mother Jones, the union supporter and activist who protected union members from anti-union thugs, and hearing her speak a few times he became interested in the unions. He proudly joined the United Mine Workers at age 14 and worked toward better and safer working conditions for the rest of his life. The book includes wages, prices, working and living conditions throughout those years.

My father worked his way west in 1910 and took a homestead in the mountains of Idaho. During WWI President Wilson put out an edict that “all miners return to the mines.” Coal was needed for the war effort. Gene leased his homestead and moved to Centralia, Washington and the coal mines. He got a second job in the lumber camps. He had a wife and baby so they lived in a tiny house near the mine. Most men lived in the bunk houses at the camps where they slept with lice and bed-bugs, 16 men in one room with no mattresses, no windows, no place to even wash after work. Jobs were bought and sold to the highest bidder. If someone offered the job-boss a dollar for your job you were finished. That was nearly a day’s pay. There was no job security. You didn’t know from one day to the next if you even had a job. So the men joined a union.

That is how Gene happened to be there when the American Legion, led by the area businessmen, attacked the union hall. They had succeeded before in running the union out of town and planned to do it again. The union secretary lived in the back of the hall, it was his home. When the soldiers broke through the door of the union hall the men shot back and four soldiers were killed. There is a monument in the Centralia City Park to honor those men who attacked the union hall.

Gene was not involved in the shooting, but he was a member of the union, and an eye-witness who could not be allowed to talk. Therefore he was arrested and accused of being the actual killer of the soldier who led the raid. There were eleven innocent men originally arrested for the deaths of the soldiers and that is them behind my father on the cover. Those who were actually guilty of the murder were never punished and lived out their lives as “respected” citizens. My book names names.

Gene refused to lie about what he had seen so he was framed and along with seven other innocent union men, was sent to prison for 25 to 40 years for first-degree murder. The life span in 1920 was 54 years so that was life in prison.

The prisoners became close friends for life and I was fortunate to know some of them and their children. They have given me their father’s papers, pictures, and letter and believed in me that I would write this book. We want one book out there that tells the truth. My father spent a lifetime labeled as a “convicted murderer” for a crime he didn’t commit. The effects of that label on his life and ours is the rest of the story.

People’s Manual on the Guidelines on Governance of Land, Fisheries and Forests

By various - La Via Campesina, et. al., June 2016

This publication is intended to support the use of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. It is not intended to contradict the language of the Guidelines as endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security on 11 May 2012 nor the role of states in their implementation.

This People’s Manual has been developed with the technical assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and with the financial assistance from the European Union (EU), Oxfam and Brazil’s Ministry of Agrarian Development, and the contributions of the organizations participating in and supporting the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC).

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union, Oxfam, Brazil’s Ministry of Agrarian Development and the IPC, concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO, the European Union, Oxfam, Brazil’s Ministry of Agrarian Development and the IPC, in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) is an autonomous and self-organized global platform of more than 800 organizations of small-scale food producers and rural workers, men and women, and grass root/community based social movements, dedicated to advancing the Food Sovereignty agenda at the global and regional levels.

Read the report (PDF).

GE Tree Company ArborGen Found Guilty of Defrauding Workers, Fined $53.5M

By Kip Doyle - Global Justice Ecology Project, January 7, 2015

New York (8 January 2015) – Biotech firm ArborGen, a leader in the research and development of genetically engineered trees (GE trees), has been fined $53.5 million in compensation and punitive damages after a court ruled that it acted to use “trickery and deceit” to “defraud” employees.

Just before the holidays a judge issued the 180 page ruling (linked below) on the case in favor of ten ArborGen workers, and against the company, as well as its timber company founders, International Paper, MeadWestvaco (now WestRock) and New Zealand-based Rubicon, plus several of their Board members.

“It is a shame that this story came out on 29 December, in the middle of a holiday week, and has gone almost completely unreported,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project. “Only two articles have covered this important story in South Carolina papers.

“We have always argued that ArborGen is acting recklessly in their pursuit of the commercial development of unproven and potentially dangerous GE eucalyptus, pine and other trees. Now we find out that ArborGen has lied to and defrauded their own employees. How could anyone possibly believe anything they say about the ‘safety’ of these GE trees?” she concluded.

Honoring Betty & Gary Ball–the 2015 Sempervirens Award Recipients

By Natalynne DeLapp - Wild California, November 3, 2015

IWW EUC note: Betty and Gary Ball were also charter members of the North Coast IWW branch, better known as Earth First! - IWW Local #1, who first met in November 1989. Other charter members included Judi Bari, Darryl Cherney, Anna Marie Stenberg, Pete Kayes, and Treva Vandenbosch among others.

Betty Ball and her late husband, Gary Ball, will receive the 2015 Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award at EPIC’s 38th Annual Fall Celebration on Friday, November 6th. Betty and Gary are the founders of the Mendocino Environmental Center, which became the hub for environmental and political activism in Mendocino and Humboldt County for more then a decade between 1987 and 1997. The issues in those years included abuse of forests on private lands, the Forests Forever ballot initiative, Redwood Summer and the campaign to protect the Headwaters Forest. Betty, the consummate networker and organizer was indispensable to the efforts to protect the environment of northern California.

Originally from Boulder, Colorado, Betty and Gary came to the Sinkyone Coast in 1986 to visit friends and fell in love with region. Upon learning that the timber company, Georgia-Pacific, was in pursuit of logging coastal ancient redwoods in the Sinkyone area, they were spurred into action.

Having long had fantasies about starting an environmental center where people could come together, work and cooperatively share resources, when Betty and Gary relocated to Ukiah in 1987, they were able to open the Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) with little more than a $20 donation, a store front office and a phone line.

Very quickly the MEC became the central network for activism, with Betty becoming the connector between the local and regional groups. Working with and bringing together activists such as Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, Betty and Gary showed the way to organize the community. It was those connections—that were instrumental in building the movement to protect the natural communities of northern California.

Gary Ball and Judi Bari used to collaborate on articles; one about the economic and environmental implications of militarism was called “Ground Beef to Ground War,” which connected military intervention and destroying El Salvadoran forests to the fast food industry. To spread awareness of the issue, activists marched through Ukiah with paper mache animal heads, singing songs and drumming. “The protest was all over the Ukiah Daily Journal,” said Betty. “It was probably the most outlandish thing that Ukiah had ever seen.”

The Secret History of Tree Spiking, Part 3

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 11, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Note: The Secret History of Tree Spiking Part 1 and Part 2 were written by Judi Bari in 1993.

Twenty-five years ago, a group of Earth First!ers, including Judi Bari, Darryl Cherney, and Earth First! co-founder Mike Roselle held a press release in Samoa, California (a small town west of Eureka, in Humboldt County, northwestern California) at the Louisiana-Pacific lumber mill and export dock. There, they issued the following statement:

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.”

For those not familiar with the tactic of "tree spiking", Earth First cofounder Dave Foreman describes the act in great detail in the book, EcoDefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. While that text is not official Earth First! literature--in the sense that Earth First!, as a loose ad hoc organization that prefers to think of itself as a movement, has long distanced themselves from the text, and Dave Foreman, due to the latter's borderline racist and classist perspectives, has long been associated with Earth First!, and Earth First! has long been associated (for better or worse) with Tree Spiking, and to this day, there are many Earth First!ers who continue to support the tactic, or--at least--choose not to renounce it.

Chapter 38 : Conclusion

In spite of the bombing, Bari had lived, which was a huge miracle by itself, and it is clear that whomever planted the bomb in her vehicle had not intended for her to have done so. The bomber had also not planned on Cherney’s presence in the vehicle (his decision to ride with Bari had been unplanned and made at the last possible moment). The bomb had been meant to kill Bari and her alone, and leave behind a mystery, a discredited leader, and fractured and broken movement. Cherney’s having also been there and having gone through the trauma had created the unintended consequence of providing Bari with a witness who could independently verify and corroborate her every word (which, as it turned out, he did) thus further undermining any case that could be made for her guilt. Nevertheless, the bombing was nothing short of a huge tragedy for Judi Bari, due to the physical and emotional trauma and the intense pain and suffering she endured afterwards. While it may be something of a stretch to say that the bombing ultimately led to Bari’s death (in March 1997 due to breast cancer) even that is not out of the question, and the loss of her life was a major setback to those who would challenge business as usual.

Bari’s and Cherney’s legal triumph was a victory, but not the final victory. The question of who bombed them still remains unsolved, but assuming that Bari and Cherney and their supporters (and to be certain the author is one) are correct, and the bombing was indeed a conspiracy involving both Corporate Timber and the FBI, the answer to the question, “Why?” bears little mystery at all.

Clearly someone was trying to disrupt, discredit, and misdirect the coalescing radical, populist opposition to Corporate Timber on the North Coast, whether they participated in the bombing or not. Certainly, the bombing was itself designed to do that, so it makes sense to conclude that the bombing and the disruption were part of a single, multifaceted effort. If asked, “cui bono?” the most likely answer is a combination of Corporate Timber (namely representatives from all three of the major corporations, Georgia-Pacific, Louisiana-Pacific, and Pacific Lumber) with the help of the FBI with the tacit (or perhaps approval) of the Bush (senior) Administration. The FBI had gone to great lengths to try and discredit Earth First! already in Arizona, and clearly the same telltale signs of a COINTELPRO operation are evident in the Bari and Cherney bombing. If G-P was involved somehow, there is no direct evidence, but evidence of L-P’s involvement is quite readily apparent. As for Pacific-Lumber, Bari and Cherney later discovered a cordial “chummy” letter to FBI Director William Sessions from a Maxxam board member. [1] There is ample indirect evidence and a clear motive linking all three to the bombing.

Chapter 37 : Who Bombed Judi Bari?

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

Now Judi Bari is the mother of two children,
A pipe bomb went ripping through her womb,
She cries in pain at night time,
In her Willits cabin room;
FBI is back again with COINTELPRO,
Richard Held is the man they know they trust,
With Lieutenant Sims his henchman,
It’s a world of boom and bust;
But we’ll answer with non-violence,
For seeking justice is our plan,
And we’ll avenge our wounded comrade,
As we defend the ravaged land…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari, by Darryl Cherney, 1990.

Redwood Summer began and moved forward more or less as planned—in spite of all that happened surrounding the bombing—and Bari and Cherney were not charged and eventually freed. Yet organizers and supporters of Redwood Summer were left wondering who the bomber was, and if they were part of a well organized plot, either by right wing fanatics, Corporate Timber, the FBI, or a combination of all of them. Gary Ball admonished everyone not to jump to conclusions about who planted the bomb, stating, “We’re not getting into conspiracy theories at this point. We’re saying that the police have made an obvious mistake and that they need to do a real investigation to find the criminal who planted that bomb and who is still on the loose.” [1] Although many supporters of Redwood Summer were convinced that the bombing was a conspiracy, there were enough people in Mendocino County reactionary and crazy enough to have acted alone, and the county had a long tradition of such lunatics. As Rob Anderson described it:

“What outsiders (and many insiders, for that matter)—members of the media, politicians, FBI agents, etc.—don’t understand about Mendocino County is its peculiar hothouse political atmosphere—a combination of poor law enforcement, obtuse political leadership, cowboy capitalism, and religious extremism. In this atmosphere, all kinds of twisted and malignant creatures flourish. In fact, at various times, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Leonard Lake, Tree Frog Johnson, and Kenneth Parnell have all lived and flourished in Mendoland.” [2]

Judi Bari herself had agreed that “Mendocino County, as we all know, is known as the largest outpatient ward in America and we who live there are completely used to this stuff…” [3]

Indeed, one week after the bombing, an anonymous letter writer, calling himself (or herself) “The Lord’s Avenger” wrote a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat full of Biblical quotations claiming credit for planting the bomb. [4] On the surface, it was entirely plausible that the bombing was motivated by Christian Fundamentalist anger towards Judi Bari, because of her stances on abortion. It is unlikely, however, that this issue was the primary reason for the bombing—since Bari had been far more vocal about timber and labor issues. [5] There was a strong Christian Fundamentalist streak particularly among the most reactionary representatives of the US Forest Service as well as the least enlightened (and most rapacious) gyppos. [6] Misogyny was no doubt embedded in the bundle of reasons for targeting Bari as well, evidenced by the fact that one of her death threats described her (and her fellow women) as “whores”, “lesbians”, and “members of NOW”. [7] Yet, as will be demonstrated, the Lord’s Avenger letter was more than likely a false lead.

There was also some wild speculation that Darryl Cherney might have planted the bomb himself (unbeknownst to Bari) out of resentment because of their recent breakup as romantic couple, but this theory falls to pieces on the prima facie evidence alone. [8] According to the FBI’s own ballistics evidence, the bomb had a switch, timer, and motion sensor, which meant that it was designed to detonate while the car was in motion during a specific time. It is just as ridiculous to think that Cherney would have knowingly consented to ride in a car containing a live bomb, which he had supposedly armed and positioned, for the purposes of revenge as it is to think that Bari and Cherney would have done so for the purposes of terrorism. In any case, Cherney, who was not mechanically inclined, was not capable of constructing such a device. [9] As Bari related to Bruce Anderson:

“Darryl, first of all, has some of the least mechanical skills of anyone I’ve ever known. I once tried to hire him to hang sheet rock and found him to be unemployable, because he didn’t know how to hammer. And, secondly, whatever else I know about Darryl—Darryl and I have been broken up as a romantic couple for several months now but I love Darryl and Darryl loves me, and there is no question in my mind that Darryl would never, ever do such a thing.” [10]

Veterans of the environmental movement who also had prior involvement with organizations that had been subject to COINTELPRO and COINTELPRO-like infiltration suspected foul play. [11] Dave Foreman, who spoke from first-hand experience, was convinced that it was, and noted the similarities between the bombing of Bari and Cherney and his own legal entanglement over the Arizona 5 case. [12] Certainly, the FBI and corporate timber had several motives. These included:

“Providing police an excuse to search homes and offices associated with the environmental movement in Mendocino County and the Bay Area, removing two of the most high-profile organizers challenging corporate power in California, and contaminating the public image—not only of Redwood Summer, but also of (Forest Forever) and the environmental movement in general with the stigma of violence and lawlessness.” [13]

Four attorneys from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, Rodney Jones, David Nelson, Steven J. Antler, and Ron Sinoway, calling themselves Northern California Lawyers for an Unbiased Investigation accused the Oakland Police and FBI of incompetence and prejudice against Bari and Cherney. [14] They issued a white paper called “A Position Statement and Legal Evaluation of the Bari-Cherney Car Bombing, which exposed the countless weaknesses in the state’s case against the two. The statement made a convincing case that the bombing was, in fact, a sophisticated plan by the opponents of Redwood Summer to undermine it, perhaps with the complicity of law enforcement agencies. [15]

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

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

“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 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”

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

“A lot of social movements get called terrorism. It dehumanizes (them). People have tried working through the system for years. It didn’t work.”

—Alison Bowman, editor, City on a Hill [1]

“The vast majority of people in this world neither own nor believe in ‘private property’, not because they are communists, but because they know it is not possible to own the Earth. This applies to the animals, too, which overall are a hell of a lot smarter than most humans.”

—Darryl Cherney, May 22, 1990 [2]

Darryl Cherney returned from Arizona, refreshed and ready to resume organizing, but the situation in Humboldt and Mendocino County was as volatile as ever. The buildup to Redwood Summer was exceeding all the organizers’ expectations. It was clear to everyone that the North Coast was about to experience a civil war. Accusations of “polarization” and “violent rhetoric” were constantly leveled at the Earth First! and IWW activists preparing to organize Redwood Summer, and many of these came from both local and corporate media outlets. The picture they painted was one of a once peaceful and prosperous region of logging communities disrupted by environmental extremists bent on wreaking havoc on the struggling, hard working timber workers of the region. Such descriptions couldn’t have been more divorced from reality.

Judi Bari had made it clear from the get go that the Redwood Summer demonstrators would not engage in hostile confrontations with the loggers, even if their actions impacted them directly:

“Our very style (if you look into Wobbly history) was taken from the loggers. We’ve had, since I’ve been in Earth First, an unwritten code that the loggers should be treated as potential allies. And we should be totally respectful of them. We are the only environmental group that I know of that has established the kind of relations with the rank and file loggers that we have. We’ve spoken for their interests, we’ve met with them, we even have a union local (IWW Local #1) with them. We have all different levels of rank and file loggers working with us. At the Eminent Domain demonstrations we appeared in public with the loggers and mill workers. We are not going to be yelling at the loggers because we have respect for them as working people.” [3]

Between the months of March and April, the campaign had gone from being just Bari, Cherney, an increasingly reluctant Greg King, and about a dozen others to as many as 100 different organizers. Meetings routinely averaged 60 participants. Almost all of them were local residents and not “outside agitators.” [4]

If anything, it was the forces of reaction that engaged in the most polarization. Indeed, in just the short period while Darryl Cherney vacationed in Arizona, Glenn Simmons continued to editorialize similarly in the pages of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, denouncing the organizers of Redwood Summer, because (according to Simmons) they “didn’t believe in God” (specifically a Christian Fundamentalist incarnation of “God”). [5] The Mendocino County chapter of the “Associated California Loggers” (still one more employer organization) accused environmentalists of “terrorism” (but cited no specific acts as evidence). [6] L-P spent $100,000 to construct a barbed wire fence surrounding its Ukiah mill to “protect” its employees from Earth First! “terrorists”. [7] Georgia Pacific cancelled public tours of its facility in Fort Bragg, and threatened to restrict access to its lands also ostensibly for similar reasons. [8] Simpson Timber spokesman Ryan Hamilton accused Redwood Summer of “setting a somber tone (that) could become a frightening situation.” [9] A group of “pro-timber” Yellow Ribbon supporters held a demonstration in Fort Bragg denouncing Earth First!, Redwood Summer, and Forests Forever. [10] One local resident, in a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat even warned against covering Earth First! in the media, lest the “good people” of the North Coast would soon find bombs inside their cars! [11]

Indeed, after the incident in Santa Cruz, every act of vandalism, sabotage, or even accidents were blamed on Earth First! There was often no way to tell if any of these incidents were real or manufactured either. For example, in the first few days of May, a Humboldt County gyppo operator in Redway, Van Meter Logging, received an anonymous bomb threat from somebody claiming to be from Earth First!, but this was either a crazy nut (with no association to Earth First! whatsoever), a fabrication by Pam Van Meter herself, or worse still, a another attempt by somebody to monkeywrench the monkeywrenchers in a dangerous act of subterfuge. “(The anonymous bomb threat) was definitely not Earth First!. Earth First! does not engage in attacks against people or terrorism. I sincerely feel sorry for this woman, but we had nothing to do with it,” declared Judi Bari. Van Meter was unsatisfied with this response, and still blamed Earth First!, stating, “If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” which was akin to blaming the victims in Mississippi Summer for inciting the racist repression against them. As it turned out, no bomb ever surfaced, at least not in Redway. [12]

There were plenty of actual threats against Earth First! and its allies, however, and not just anonymous death threats any longer. For example, Humboldt County supervisor Anna Sparks declared, “I think you’re asking for trouble, because they’re (going to be) up here protesting the jobs of the loggers and taking away their livelihoods through their protests and taking away the constitutional rights of people. You can’t help but bring violence in!” [13] This was bad enough, but in Mendocino County Charles Stone, a right wing radio talk show host with ties to actual extremist organizations (to which crypto-fascist Jack Azevedo also belonged) was now using his daily program on KDAC in Fort Bragg to whip up hysteria against Judi Bari and Redwood Summer. Following the incident in Santa Cruz, he urged his regular listeners, who included many of the local gyppos, to pressure the Board of Supervisors to “order” the Redwood Summer to appear so that the “real, god fearing citizens” of the county could pin them down and force them to admit all of their nefarious, secret agendas (whatever those were). [14] Surprisingly, supervisor Liz Henry, of all people, agreed, and placed the matter of Redwood Summer on the agenda for the May 1 meeting. [15]

Supervisor Henry no doubt naïvely assumed that she could negotiate some sort of agreement whereby the demonstrations would not result “in serious injury or economic disruption”, but this failed to understand the true nature of the problem. As was the case in the original Mississippi Summer, appealing to the rule of law was impossible when the law was bought and paid for by the perpetrators of the injustice being challenged in the first place. It was at best foolhardy to ignore the fact that economic disruption had already been occurring (at the hands of the corporations) now for over a decade. Bari faced a Catch 22. She knew that little was to be gained by appearing at what was likely to be a star chamber of hostility, but to not appear would allow the charges against Redwood Summer to go unanswered, and Bari was determined not to back down in the face of prejudice this time. Knowing that she would be hopelessly outnumbered, she enlisted as many allies as she could muster.

Chapter 34 : We’ll Have an Earth Night Action

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

Now Earth Day 1990 was Dennis Hayes’ vision,
But instead of bringing us together it only caused division,
He said turn down your thermostat and recycle toilet paper,
And as long as they contribute don’t confront the corporate rapers.

—lyrics excerpted from Earth Night Action, by Darryl Cherney and Mike Roselle, 1990.

Amidst all of that was going on behind the Redwood Curtain, and the timber wars which were now raging nationally, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was fast approaching, and even that was full of controversy. The hullabaloo wasn’t over the hype building over the twentieth Earth Day, but rather the growing corporate and state influence over the planning of the events commemorating it. Instead of rallies, demonstrations, speeches, and teach-ins addressing the increasing threats to the environment, in particular by the increasingly destructive evolution of capitalism, the day was shaping up to be a collection of “innocuous ‘feel-good’ festivals” designed by the corporations to “put a shine on the tarnished images of this planet’s despoilers.” The very “earth-raping” corporations whose records were most deserving of criticism had their hands on the purse strings. Worse still, control over organizing the events had been placed in the hands of the local city and county governments. In municipalities and counties where resource extraction or land speculation funded the campaigns of local politicians, there would be every incentive to soften criticism of such activities. As Earth First!er Jeffrey St. Clair put it, “If your issue is growth, how cleanly can you articulate that when the very people you’re fighting are sitting on the planning committee?” The foxes were once again seizing control of the henhouse. In city after city, corporate influence was “green-washing” the event, and some of the worst offenders were the timber corporations clearcutting on California’s North Coast. [1]

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