106 W. Standley Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 - (707) 468-1660
BARI/CHERNEY CASE LEGAL TEAM
July 13, 2001
Dear Earth First! Friends and Supporters:
As lead attorney Dennis Cunningham declared at the Oakland rally commemorating the 11th anniversary of the bombing of Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, “It’s a good time to go to trial against the FBI!”
Eleven years ago, on May 24, 1990, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were the victims of a motion-triggered car bomb as they drove through Oakland on a tour to promote a campaign of nonviolent logging blockades called Redwood Summer. The FBI and Oakland Police showed up at the scene within minutes and had the pair arrested for transporting the bomb, then announced to the world that the assassination attempt had been a terrorist plot gone awry. Even though there was no evidence to warrant these absurd charges, no real investigation of the bombing was ever done, and the true culprits remain at large to this day.
In 1991, Judi and Darryl sued the FBI and Oakland Police for false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and conspiracy to violate their First Amendment right to organize by falsely associating them with terrorism--literally for continuing to use the tactics of the notorious FBI Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO. Judi Bari died of breast cancer in 1997, but the court case survives, and is scheduled to go to trial just months from now on October 1, 2001.
Today the Bureau is awash in scandals, and the public’s skepticism about the FBI is running high. After the FBI admitted it failed to turn over thousands of pages of files to lawyers for Timothy McVeigh, a revelation that delayed the Oklahoma City bomber’s execution, a majority of people polled rejected the FBI’s claim that the files were withheld “accidentally.”On June 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Democrat Patrick Leahy, held the first in a series of hearings to explore oversight for the FBI. Last week, President Bush nominated the head of the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco, Republican Robert S. Mueller, to take over as the new FBI director. Mueller’s confirmation hearings will no doubt be another forum for discussing the need for big changes at the FBI.
But just as Judi and Darryl’s nationally significant federal lawsuit against the FBI for conspiracy and rights abuses is coming to trial, the historic FBI policy of targeting political dissent is completely absent from the drumbeat for reform on Capitol Hill. Although FBI crimes against right-wingers in Ruby Ridge and Waco are on the top of the list, not one of the proposed Senate Hearings deals with FBI political abuses against progressive social activists.But the government will not be able to ignore the trial of Judi Bari vs. USA if we are vocal and organized! We’re putting the FBI on the stand just as they are the most vulnerable and when real change could be possible. We can use the upcoming trial to draw national attention to continuing FBI rights abuses of activists like Earth First!er Judi Bari and American Indian Movement political prisoner Leonard Peltier.
In the months and weeks left before trial, it’s time to up the profile of these cases by planning rallies and demonstrations, organizing informational events and fundraisers, and encouraging our alternative press — as well as the mainstream media — to cover the issue of FBI crimes against the left. We must encourage everyone to contact their Congressional representatives and demand that the continuing use of COINTELPRO tactics by the FBI be included in the Senate oversight hearings. And we must mobilize to bring people out in huge numbers to the long awaited trial of Bari vs. USA on October 1st in Oakland.
Desperate Plea for Funds!
As always, along with your political support of the case we need money, now more than ever. It’s a small miracle that we’ve managed to meet the costs of keeping this case alive for a whole decade, thanks to you. But we ain’t seen nothing yet compared to the astronomical costs of taking on the federal government at trial. Please help us put on the best case possible by making a donation now to cover mounting pre-trial and trial expenses. Checks can be made out to Earth First!, and mailed to us at the address above. (For tax deductible donations, please make the check out to Redwood Justice Fund, earmarked “Bari litigation.”)
Upcoming bombing case events:
To see what we’re doing to prepare for trial, please read the Summer 2001 Bombing Case Update, and also see the New York Times op-ed by the former Attorney General of Alabama asking Why did the FBI Hold Back Evidence? in the Alabama church bombing murder of four young girls. Thanks for staying informed and active, and we’ll see you in court! Justice for Judi Bari!
Click here to jump to the July 2, 2001 "Motion For Justice" and its supplemental statements by Prof. Howard Zinn and former FBI agent John C. Ryan.