FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Copy of Brief Available to Media Upon Request
Dennis Cunningham, Lead Attorney, 415-285-8091
Alicia Littletree, Redwood Summer Justice Project, 707-459-1466
Michael Shellenberger, Communication Works, 415-255-1946
OAKLAND, CA - Amid recent revelations that the FBI crime lab routinely manipulated scientific evidence for political ends, the FBI and Oakland Police have been charged with deliberately falsifying evidence in their investigation of the 1990 car bombing of Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in a brief filed March 18 by the activists' lawyers.
The brief accompanied a motion calling on U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken to deny the FBI and Oakland's claims of immunity from prosecution for violating Bari and Cherney's civil rights in a COINTELPRO-style campaign to neutralize their political activity. Bari, who was nearly killed and left disabled by the blast, died March 2 of breast cancer.
The legal move comes at a time when an investigation of the FBI's crime lab has focused intense criticism on the agency and the integrity of its investigations. The main FBI bomb expert in Bari's case, Special Agent David R. Williams, is one of three lab experts transferred from their jobs following the Inspector General's findings that the FBI crime lab regularly distorted and manipulated scientific evidence to support the prosecution's position in court cases. Among the dozens of cases said to be jeopardized by the scandal is the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
Within hours of the Oakland blast and despite all the evidence that the activists were targets of an assassination attempt, local police arrested Bari and Cherney for transporting explosives, based on the FBI's false claims that they were terrorists.
"Rather than conduct a legitimate investigation to find the real bombers, the agencies instead used the attack to smear Bari and Cherney, Earth First! and the Northern California environmental movement," said Dennis Cunningham, the activists' lead attorney. No charges were ever filed, and the bomber remains at large.
In the Bari case, Oakland Police claim it was SA Williams who told them that nails in the bomb matched those found in Bari's house. In fact, evidence shows that no match of nails was possible, and that investigators were well aware of that fact. This patently false statement was used to justify a second search of Bari's house and to fuel lurid headlines falsely connecting activists to the bomb.
The Oakland Police and FBI have claimed that their actions were legally reasonable, and thus they should be granted immunity from suit. This claim has prevented the six-year-old civil rights case from coming to trial. The brief filed in support of the March 18 motion includes overwhelming evidence that the FBI and OPD did not simply make "mistakes" but knowingly and deliberately falsified evidence in a conspiracy to violate Bari and Cherney's rights and to neutralize their political activity.
To be placed on the mailing list to receive updates on Judi Bari's lawsuit against the FBI, or to make a tax deductible contribution to help fund the lawsuit, please contact: