HERBERT CHAO GUNTHER
U. UTAH PHILLIPS
CORA LEE SIMMONS
April 2, 2002
Dear friends and supporters,
Well...THIS IS IT!!!
At 8:30 am on April 8, 2002, about 50 people summoned from all over Northern California will file into the Oakland federal courtroom. A handful of them will become the jury that will hear and decide the case of Judi Bari vs. the FBI, almost twelve years after Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were car bombed in Oakland and then falsely arrested by the FBI and Oakland Police.
Twelve years ago, in the spring of 1990, it was Judi and Darryl who faced impending charges, based on a series of outright lies told in the immediate aftermath of the bombing by Oakland Police officers and FBI agents. As Judi clung to life in the critical care unit, and Darryl was interrogated repeatedly without a lawyer, the police and FBI ignored or covered-up every piece of evidence that might lead them to the real perpetrators. Instead, they used the blast as an opportunity to vilify nonviolent activists who had become a thorn in the side of the big timber corporations.
Now the tables have turned. This time when we walk into court, it will be the FBI and Oakland Police who are on trial, facing charges of false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and conspiracy to violate Judi and Darryl's First Amendment rights.
The FBI on Trial
The first stage of the trial will be jury selection, which may be especially arduous due to the impact of September 11 and the need to find jurors who can be impartial about the FBI, issues about "terrorism," and civil rights. It could last anywhere from one to three days. Once the jury is seated, both sides will make opening statements, and then they will start calling witnesses, first the Plaintiffs (us) and then the defendants.
For the following six weeks, the FBI agents and Oakland Police officers who played a role in falsely accusing Judi and Darryl of bombing themselves will each have to take the stand. This list includes Special Agent (SA) Frank Doyle, the FBI's explosives expert and "bomb school" teacher who claimed that the bomb had been visible on the back seat floorboard of Judi's car when it had obviously been hidden under the driver's seat. Defendants SA Stockton Buck and SA Walt Hemje were investigators who systematically avoided looking at any leads, including numerous death threats received by Judi and Darryl before the bombing, that would steer the search for the bombers away from the victims. SA's John Conway and Phil Sena will have to testify about their political monitoring of northern California Earth First! activists in the months before the bombing. The head of the FBI's "terrorist squad"- Squad 13- at the time of the bombing, Supervisory SA John Reikes, will also take the stand. The Oakland defendants include then Sergeants Micheal Sitterud and Robert Chenault (who is now part of the OPD's "intelligence unit"), and Lieutenant Clyde Michael Sims. These guys are on trial for conspiring with the FBI to falsely arrest Judi and Darryl in the hours after the blast, and search their homes illegally. Other "unindicted co-conspirators," as well as law enforcement from other agencies will also testify as part of our case.
Aside from getting the bad guys on the stand and under oath, Judi (by video) and Darryl will finally have the opportunity to tell their side of the story to a jury and the world. Activists who were working on the Redwood Summer campaign, whose efforts were severely impacted by the smear campaign after the bombing, will testify. So will Judi's loved ones. This in itself is a significant victory, a time for the wrongly accused to finally have their say, and for the public to hear the truth after all these years.
Judge Wilken has scheduled six weeks for the entire trial, Mondays through Thursdays (no court on Fridays), with the time split evenly between plaintiffs and defendants. On this timeline the trial will wrap up right around May 24, the 12th anniversary of the bombing. Also, the judge has said that each witness will only be called once, so the FBI and Oakland Police will have to make their case while they cross-examine witnesses called by Judi and Darryl's lawyers. Keep this in mind in terms of attending the trial — it'll be important to come for more than just the first three weeks! (Note May 13-15 there will not be court because the judge will be out of town.)
Pack the Courtroom!
There is limited seating (approximately 75 seats), and since it's first-come, first-served, not everyone is going to make it in on the first and last days. The challenge is going to be to keep the courtroom packed throughout the trial. It would be a good idea to plan ahead, and coordinate your attendance with others. Also, think about having your organization or affinity group take one day a week, or even one week out of the six, and let us know so we can tell folks what days are already covered.
Remember, times have changed at the Federal Building, and you need a photo ID to get in. There will be heightened security, and people may be searched when entering. If you bring recording equipment, laptop computers, cameras, pocket knives and scissors, and the like you'll have to turn them in at the security check at the front door. Cell phones must be off in the courtroom.
The jury can be influenced by everything that takes place in the courtroom, including the presence, behavior and appearance of our supporters. Although it might at times be difficult to resist, please no sneering, whispering, booing, guffawing, or otherwise bad behavior.
More important than ever
Judi and Darryl's case against the FBI has always been an important example that the FBI is still involved in the disruption of political activities. But in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the continuing attacks by the government on our civil liberties, the bombing case has become more relevant than ever. It is a symbol of how the new "war on terrorism" will be used to crush dissent. The passage of the USA Patriot Act may be the first strike, with over 200 pages of new legislation virtually wiping out 4th Amendment protection against false arrest and illegal searches, and rolling back many of our 1st Amendment rights.
Lately, the FBI has also been busy in industry's campaign against the environmental movement in particular as well. After receiving a significant campaign contribution from developers in his home district of Vail, Colorado, Representative Scott McInnis (R, Colorado), chair of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health convened a Congressional hearing this February about "Eco-terrorism." The star witness was none other than James Jarboe, the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, who named so-called "Eco-terrorists" the number one domestic terrorist threat in the US! Environmental extremists won out over anti-abortionists, white supremacists, and the NYPD, even though not one person has been injured or killed from any crime allegedly committed by an "eco-terrorist." Jarboe even accused Earth First! of giving rise to the environmental terror network. All this hyperbole and unfounded accusation is yet another attempt by the FBI on the eve of the trial to falsely associate environmentalists with violence in the mind of the public. (For a transcript of Jarboe's comments, check out http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/forests)
We know we ask you this every time, and you have already given so much to ensure this case makes it to trial. Well now is the moment we've been working toward for twelve years, and we must ask you once more. The trial of Judi Bari vs. the FBI is going to require all the money we can possibly raise and then some. The bills are already piling up for expert witnesses, exhibits, displays, subpoenas, trial preparation, legal work, and transportation and arrangements to display the bombed car and a same model Subaru. All that on top of six months of unanticipated expenses after September 11, including about a dozen additional depositions and more pretrial legal wrangling. Now that we're on the home stretch, please donate whatever you can to help pay for trial. Checks can be made out to Redwood Justice Fund, earmarked for "Bari Litigation" and mailed in to the RSJP address below. Or you can make an online donation by clicking on the "Paypal donate" graphic below.
We'll see you in court on April 8!
Viva Judi Bari!
To be added to 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:
REDWOOD SUMMER JUSTICE PROJECT
P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Phone (707) 887-0262 or FAX (707) 887-0865
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