Dear Friends and Supporters,
Last October, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the FBI agents and Oakland Police officers directly involved in the frame-up of Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, targeted in a 1990 carbomb assassination attempt, are not immune from civil prosecution and will be required to stand trial.
We had hoped this would put an end to the years of delay caused by government wrangling over the qualified immunity issue. Yet just one day before the deadline we received word that the Oakland Police Department had appealed Judge Wilken's ruling, and on February 10th a commissioner for the Ninth Circuit Court agreed to hear their appeal.
We believe the appeal is baseless, and brought only for delay and to wear us down as a political movement and to exhaust our resources. But we are not disheartened. We have won every court battle in the past based on the same incontrovertible evidence of government misconduct, and we're sure to win this one too. This landmark civil rights lawsuit will be brought to trial.
There's still one more chance that we may defeat this latest stalling tactic without going through the lengthy appellate process. On March 13th we filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, charging that it's frivolous and has no basis in the law. If the court agrees with us and dismisses Oakland's appeal, Judge Wilken will likely set the case for trial in early 1999.
The one very negative aspect of Wilken's October ruling was to provisionally grant immunity to Richard W. Held and others of the FBI top brass. At the time of the bombing, Richard Held was Special Agent-in-Charge of the San Francisco FBI office, and we believe orchestrated the FBI's COINTELPRO-style operation against Earth First! in this case. We are shocked that the same judge who has consistently upheld our right to sue the FBI on conspiracy would then allow the conspiracy's mastermind to sneak out the back door.
We are intent on getting Richard Held back into the case as a named defendant and co-conspirator. To learn how we know that Held is "the baby" and not just "the bathwater," take a look at "America's Secret Police," elsewhere on this Judi Bari Web Site.
Getting Ready for Trial
While the court process has temporarily slowed down, our work has only accelerated as we assemble the team we need to take the case to trial. In October, we expanded the legal team to include Erica Etelson, a National Lawyers Guild attorney who has done great work organizing the volumes of evidence and tracking discovery. At the same time, we're lining up expert witnesses to testify about proper and improper police procedures, the physics of bomb analysis, and of the FBI's long and bloody history of repression of political dissent.
We've also stepped up our efforts to put the case in the national spotlight, which we feel is key to success in the courtroom. Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio Project (a project of the Quixote Center), whose excellent organizing and hard work virtually single-handedly brought Mumia Abu-Jamal's case to national attention, has joined us and is crafting our media and fundraising strategies.
Many people, aware of the importance of this case for all social change movements and out of their love and respect for Judi Bari, have given their time and knowledge to allow us to challenge the most powerful police force in America. But even with incredible amounts of donated labor, the costs of the case continue to mount as we get closer to trial.
It's been your
constant support that has kept us going for these past six years. Now,
with the end almost in sight, we ask you once again to contribute -- whatever
you can -- to vindicate Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, and to hold the FBI
and Oakland Police accountable for their crimes.
P.P.S. --- We need your help identifying environmental and investigative journalists in your local area and nationally who should be covering this case. Please send us clippings.