Judi Bari

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Judi Bari
Judi Bari, March 3, 1995, by Xiang Xing Zhou, San Francisco Daily Journal
Judith Beatrice Bari

(1949-11-07)November 7, 1949
DiedMarch 2, 1997(1997-03-02) (aged 47)
Alma materUniversity of Maryland
OccupationEarth First! organizer
Known forEnvironmental, labor and social justice leadership
Spouse(s)Mike Sweeney
Children2, including Lisa Bari
RelativesGina Kolata (sister)

Judith Beatrice Bari (November 7, 1949 – March 2, 1997) was an American environmentalist and labor leader, a feminist, an anarchist and the principal organizer of Earth First! campaigns against logging in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California in the 1980s and 1990s. She also organized efforts through Earth First! – Industrial Workers of the World Local 1 to bring timber workers and environmentalists together in common cause.

Early life and education[edit]

Bari was born on November 7, 1949 and she was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, the daughter of mathematician Ruth Aaronson Bari and diamond setter Arthur Bari. The elder Baris were both active in left-wing politics; they advocated for civil rights and opposed the Vietnam War. One of Judi Bari's sisters is New York Times science journalist Gina Kolata; the other sister, Martha Bari, is an art historian. Bari's father was of Italian descent and her mother was Jewish.[1] Although Judi attended the University of Maryland for five years, she dropped out without graduating. She admitted that her college career was most notable for "anti-Vietnam War rioting".[2]

Prior to her move to northern California, Bari was a clerk for a chain grocery store and became a union organizer in its work force. At her next job as a mail handler, she organized a wildcat strike in the United States Postal Service bulk mail facility in Maryland.[2][1][3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1978 Bari met her future husband Mike Sweeney at a labor organizers' conference. They shared an interest in radical politics. Sweeney attended Stanford University, and was a member of the Maoist group Venceremos in the early 1970s.[4] In 1979, they were married and living in Santa Rosa, California.[5] She bore two daughters, Lisa (1981) and Jessica (1985).

The Bari family was prominent in a neighborhood effort to shut down an old Navy airstrip in west Santa Rosa, claiming that it would be expanded into a commercial airport and her warnings have proven to be correct. The airport was renamed the Charles M. Schultz - Sonoma County Airport, and offers daily commercial flights to destinations throughout the U.S West.[6]

Political and conservation activities[edit]

During the early to mid-1980s Bari devoted her time to Pledge of Resistance, a group that opposed US policies in Central America.[2] She was a self-proclaimed virtuoso on the bullhorn. She edited, wrote and drew cartoons for political leaflets and publications. Around 1985, Bari moved north with her husband and two children to the vicinity of Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, California.

In 1986, Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz had acquired Pacific Lumber Company and doubled its rate of timber harvesting as a means of paying off the acquisition cost. This enraged environmentalists and drew attention from government agencies because of the use of junk bonds.[7] Protests against old-growth timber harvesting by Pacific Lumber would become the focus of Earth First! protests in the following years.

On May 8, 1987, a sawmill accident occurred at the Louisiana Pacific mill in Cloverdale, California. Mill worker George Alexander[8] nearly died of injuries suffered when a saw blade struck a spike in a log being milled, generating shrapnel. A fallout of publicity resulted. Earth First!, which at that point still presented "monkeywrenching" at the forefront of its strategy, was blamed for the spike because of incidents of equipment sabotage that had taken place in the vicinity of where that log originated, but responsibility for the spike could not be ascertained.[9] The bad publicity from the incident led Earth First! to disavow tree spiking (but not other forms of sabotage).[10]

In 1988, Bari was instrumental in starting Local 1 of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which allied itself with Earth First! in protests against cutting old growth redwoods.[11] Bari used her labor organizing background to run a workshop on the Industrial Workers of the World at an Earth First! rendezvous in California.[12] The formation of EF!–IWW Local 1 sought to bring together environmentalists and timber workers who were concerned about the rate the timber industry was harvesting. That year, Bari's first forest blockade site was on behalf of expanding the Bureau of Land Management's South Fork Eel River Wilderness. Bari also organized a counter-demonstration to protect a Planned Parenthood clinic in Ukiah.[2]

Bari's actions were seen by many timber workers as threatening their livelihoods. At this time, environmentalists were backing their legal suits by protesting against timber overcutting with blockades of job sites in the woods and tree sitting. In turn, loggers saw such actions as harassment. Confrontations between loggers and demonstrators were often heated and sometimes violent. Reactions to Bari's involvement in the protests were severe, including the ramming of her car by a logging truck in 1989, as well as death threats.[13][14] In August 1989, environmentalist protester Mem Hill suffered a broken nose in a protest confrontation with loggers in the woods. A subsequent legal suit accused a logger of assault, and claimed law enforcement did not protect her from attack.[15]

In line with her publicly-stated beliefs in nonviolent action, Bari harnessed the power of music as part of her demonstrations. She played the violin and sang original compositions by Darryl Cherney and occasionally her own.[2] Their song titles and lyrics aroused controversy by usage of loaded language. Cherney's song about tree spiking, "Spike a Tree for Jesus" is one example;[16] "Will This Fetus Be Aborted?", sung as a counter-protest to an anti-abortion rally, was another.[17] The resulting publicity tended to create perceptions about Earth First! among the public contrary to her stated commitment to non-violent civil disobedience and her public disavowal of tree spiking; media portrayed her as an obstructionist saboteur.[18] Bari's activism made her seem egocentric, humorless, and strident to some; and her tactics often rankled not only the timber industry and political establishment, but fellow environmental activists.[1]

Differences emerged between Bari and her husband over their diverging life and political paths, and over reconciling political action with the obligations of parenting. In 1988, with a divorce between herself and her husband underway, she met Darryl Cherney and began a romantic relationship with him based partly on shared political beliefs.

In 1990, the Sierra Club withdrew its support from legislation amending California Forest Practice Rules and moving forward a process for establishing a Headwaters Forest preserve on Pacific Lumber Company land, opting instead to submit by voter initiative Proposition 130, dubbed "Forests Forever." The timber industry was strongly opposed to it. In response, environmentalists began organizing Redwood Summer, a campaign of nonviolent protests focused on slowing harvest of redwood forests in Northern California until such forests gained extra protections under Proposition 130.[2] The name of their campaign was inspired by the Freedom Summer of the Civil Rights Movement. Bari was instrumental in the process of calling in demonstrators from college campuses across the United States.[2][1] On November 6, 1990, Proposition 130 was defeated by California voters. Opponents emphasized the activities of Redwood Summer and the support of Earth First! for Proposition 130.

During organizing for Redwood Summer, Bari directed efforts in Mendocino County and Cherney went on the road to recruit activists. That division of labor made use of Bari's local connections and rapport with some lumber industry workers developed during her union organizing efforts.[19] It also kept Cherney at a distance where his reputation for advocating sabotage and propensity for hostile outbursts towards timber workers would be less damaging.[20] His incendiary style was more suited to mobilizing students and "feral" Earth First! activists who shared his hostility towards timber workers and were less concerned with consequences to the community.

On April 22, 1990, a group called Earth Night Action Group sabotaged power poles in southern Santa Cruz County, causing power outages.[21] Upon hearing of that incident, Bari's responses included "Desperate times call for desperate measures," and "So what if some ice cream melted?"[22] Those statements were interpreted as approval of sabotage suggesting that Earth First! might still be involved in sabotage. Further credence was lent to the theory that Earth First! was involved when a restricted-distribution flyer authored by Darryl Cherney calling for "Earth Night" actions, featuring renditions of a monkey wrench, an earth mover, and figures representing saboteurs in the night, was made public.[23] Cherney would refer to the flyer as facetious.[24] The identity of Earth Night Action Group has never been established and their relationship to Earth First! is a matter of speculation.

On May 9, 1990, a failed incendiary pipe bomb was discovered in the Louisiana Pacific sawmill in Cloverdale. A hand-lettered sign saying "L-P screws millworkers" was placed outside the mill. The bomb had "signature" features in common with two explosive/incendiary bombs used to ignite a wooden hangar at a west Santa Rosa airstrip in October 1980 (one of which was also a dud) and the bomb that exploded in Bari's car on May 24, 1990.[22] Responsibility for placement of the bomb was never established. Accurate descriptions of the mill bomb and the bomb that exploded in Bari's car would be provided in a letter from the self-identified "Lord's Avenger" in the days following the car bombing.

On May 22, 1990, Bari met quietly with local loggers to agree on ground rules for nonviolence during the Redwood Summer demonstrations.[25]

In the early afternoon of May 23, 1990, Bari departed her home for a trip centered on organizing for Redwood Summer and musical events in Santa Cruz. She stopped for a press conference in Ukiah and for a meeting at the Seeds of Peace collective house in Berkeley before staying overnight at a house near MacArthur Boulevard and Park Boulevard in Oakland. She departed the house with Darryl Cherney as a passenger shortly before a bomb exploded in her car on May 24.

Car bombing attempt on Bari's life[edit]


On May 24, 1990, in Oakland, California, the vehicle used by Bari and Darryl Cherney was blown up by a pipe bomb.[26] Bari was severely injured by the blast, as the bomb was located under her seat; Cherney suffered minor injuries. Bari was arrested for transporting explosives while she was still in critical condition with a fractured pelvis and other major injuries.

The rapid presence of FBI bomb investigators at the scene, virtually simultaneously with first responders from the Oakland Police Department, raised suspicion that the FBI knew about the bomb beforehand and might even have been responsible for the bomb. In Bari's words, it was as if the investigators were "waiting around the corner with their fingers in their ears." It was later revealed that there had been a tip to law enforcement, suspected to be from the person responsible for the bomb, that "some heavies" were carrying a bomb south for sabotage in the Santa Cruz area.[22][27] The rapid response of the FBI to the bombing and their immediate focus on Bari as a suspect rather than a victim are consistent with surveillance of Bari after receiving a tip about a bomb.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) took jurisdiction of the case away from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, alleging it was an eco-terrorism case.[11][28] The Oakland Police Department was the local agency on the case. Bari's wounds disabled her to the extent she had to curtail her activities. As Bari convalesced, Redwood Summer took place, turning into a series of demonstrations by thousands of environmental activists and counter-demonstrations by roughly equal numbers of timber workers and their families.

In late July 1990, the Alameda County District Attorney declined to press charges against Bari and Cherney, claiming insufficient evidence. The arrests and search warrants became the basis of Bari's civil rights suit, filed the following year but not decided until 2002, five years after her death.


When the Oakland police and the FBI immediately accused Bari and Cherney of knowingly carrying a bomb for use in an act of terrorism, the story made headlines nationwide.[2] By 3:00 p.m. of the day of the bombing, Bari was placed under arrest for transportation of illegal explosives while being treated in Highland Hospital.[26] The reputation of Earth First! for sabotage made the media open to the police version of events. For example, a KQED news report entitled "Focus: Logjam" used the term "radical" to describe Earth First!, blamed them for sabotaging logger's equipment and tree spiking, and tied in Bari's bombing with these actions.[18]

Based on his personal observations of bomb damage to the car, FBI Special Agent Frank Doyle filed a public affidavit that the bomb had been carried on the back seat floorboard of Bari's vehicle. The FBI was granted a search warrant on May 25 at 2:21 a.m., and agents subsequently took a helicopter to search Bari's home. Agents also searched the premises of the "Seeds of Peace" house in Berkeley, where Bari and Cherney had visited the day before the explosion. Members of Seeds of Peace were repeatedly interviewed, and repeatedly stated to police that Bari and Cherney were committed to nonviolence.[29]

Within a week, supporters of Bari and Cherney were petitioning for an investigation of the FBI's investigative methods; there were already complaints by Daniel Hamburg and others that the investigation was focused solely on charging the two environmentalists.[25] At the same time, legislation governing the size of protest sign staffs was under consideration by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, as a means of curbing violence by demonstrators.[30] Meanwhile, the remaining Redwood Summer organizers debated whether to cancel demonstrations in the woods as being too dangerous.[31]

On May 29, representatives of small local logging companies and of Redwood Summer signed an agreement for nonviolent and non-destructive protests of timber harvesting.[25] Redwood Summer eventually continued, though as a series of both demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. The latter were organized by timber industry families, who felt their employment was in jeopardy.[32][33][34][35]

On July 6, a new search warrant for Bari's home, granted after a typewritten letter claiming responsibility for the bomb was made public (see The "Lord's Avenger" below), was executed with exemplars of typewriting the target of the search.[36]

FBI analysis of the explosive device determined it was a pipe bomb with nails wrapped to its surface to create shrapnel, and that it was equipped with a timer-armed motion trigger ensuring it would explode only when the car was driven. The bomb was also placed on the floorboard directly under the driver's seat, not on the floorboard behind the seat as Agent Doyle had claimed. That evidence pointed to the bomb being an anti-personnel device placed with the intent of killing the driver of Bari's car. Despite that evidence, the FBI investigation remained focused on the theory that the explosion was an accidental detonation of a device knowingly transported by Bari, with attempts to match roofing nails transported in Bari's car to finishing nails used with the bomb. After seven weeks of continual news stories citing repeated police claims that all evidence pointed to Bari and Cherney as culprits, the Alameda County District Attorney announced that he would not file any formal charges against the pair due to insufficient evidence against them. Law enforcement agencies never followed through on the evidence that the bombing was an attempt on Bari's life and the crime would go unsolved.[37]

During her convalescence, Bari issued a directive for those in her circle not to cooperate with investigators. The directive remained in place after Bari was no longer considered a suspect in the bombing.[4] Bari offered cooperation with investigators in return for legal immunity; the offer was refused.[22]


The "Lord's Avenger"[edit]

Just five days after the bombing, on May 29, while Bari was still in hospital, Mike Geniella of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat received a letter claiming responsibility for placing the bombs in Bari's car and at the Cloverdale mill. It was written in an ornate, biblical style with heavily misogynistic language and signed "The Lord's Avenger,"[38] stating further that the letter writer's motivation was outrage at Bari's offense against his religious sensibilities during an anti-abortion protest at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Ukiah, California in December 1988. The letter also described the construction of the two bombs in great detail. The bomb in the Cloverdale sawmill included a pipe bomb and a can of gasoline, but it failed to ignite and did no damage. The other bomb was in Bari's vehicle.[39] The letter focused suspicion on Bill Staley, a former professional football player and self-styled preacher who had been at the demonstration. Staley was eventually cleared of suspicion in the bombing. The detailed description of the bombs tied the letter's author to the construction of the bomb. However, the author's explanation of when and where the bomb was placed in Bari's car was found to be implausible. The author claimed to have placed the bomb during an event when Bari's car was parked on a busy street and the location of which was not widely disseminated. The author claimed an implausible malfunction of the timing mechanism to explain the delay between the claimed time of bomb placement and its detonation. It was decided among both supporters and detractors of Bari's favored theory of the bombing that the letter was sent by the bomb builder in an effort to divert attention to Staley.[22][19]

Darryl Cherney[edit]

There was fleeting speculation in the days following the bombing, among Bari's friends who saw a deterioration in her relationship with Cherney, that Cherney planted the bomb in Oakland and it went off prematurely while he was still in the car on a short trip from Oakland to Berkeley. The purported motive was resentment at Bari's replacement of him as the leading organizer of Earth First! in northern California in contrast to his newly restricted role, along with having a martyr to boost the profile of Redwood Summer. Cherney was briefly suspected to be the author of the "Lord's Avenger" letter because of his close familiarity with events referenced in it. However, that theory, along with the more general suspicion towards Cherney, fell apart under logical impossibilities.[19]


As the FBI's contention that the bombing was an accidental detonation was shown to be completely implausible in the face of physical evidence, the theory that the assailant was related to the FBI gained currency. Within a year of the bombing, Bari developed the theory that the bomber was an acquaintance of hers whom she suspected of being an FBI informant. The close resemblance of the May 24 bombing of Bari's car to "crime scenes" fabricated by the FBI in a "bomb school" held in redwood country earlier that year, as discovered during depositions for Bari's Civil Rights lawsuit in 1994, was taken by Bari and her followers as supporting evidence that the FBI was responsible for the bombing. The FBI school was intended to train local and state police officers on how to investigate bomb scenes. The school taught that bomb explosions inside a vehicle were not likely to involve targets of bombing but indicated the knowing, criminal transportation of homemade bombs. This was said to be because it was difficult to break into a locked car to plant a bomb. That theory prejudiced investigators who had been taught at the bomb school in favor of the theory that the bomb in Bari's car was being knowingly transported. Two of the three bombs set off as a practicum for the school were placed inside automobile passenger compartments and the third was placed in the motor compartment per the Range Safety Officer's instructions.[19][40]

According to Bari, FBI Special Agent Frank Doyle was the bomb school instructor, and at least four of the law enforcement responders to the bombing were his students at the school.[19]

Bari had received numerous death threats citing her anti-logging activism in the weeks before the bombing. She had reported them to local police, and after the bombing, Bari's attorney turned written threats over to the FBI for investigation. The local police and the FBI never investigated, court evidence later showed.[41]

Bari's ex-husband[edit]

In 1991, KQED reporter and documentary producer Stephen Talbot produced a documentary with the title "Who Bombed Judi Bari?", in the process of which he uncovered circumstantial evidence and suspicion from those who knew the details of Bari's personal life, including Bari herself, that Bari's assailant was her ex-husband Michael Sweeney. Talbot named Sweeney and others as possible suspects in the bombing.[4] Talbot felt constrained by journalistic ethics not to report Bari as a source of that suspicion, as she had told him in confidence. While the documentary presented the evidence that the bombing was an attempt on Bari's life, its failure to promote Bari's public narrative, that the timber industry or the FBI were behind the bombing, drew denunciation from Bari in an article titled "Who bought Steve Talbot?," disseminated through the San Francisco Weekly and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Talbot also reported the presence of a letter from "Argus" to the Chief of the Ukiah Police Department from 1989, offering to be an informant against Bari regarding marijuana dealing. Bari contended that the source of the "Argus" letter had to have been Irv Sutley, a Peace and Freedom Party activist whom she had met in 1988. Attention had also been focused on the "Lord's Avenger" letter sent to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat immediately after the bombing, and on a "no second warning" death threat letter sent to Bari about a month before the bombing. Through the early 1990s, the narrative that the bombing was the work of either the FBI or other opponents of Bari's Earth First! activities, with suspicion centered on Irv Sutley as the hitman, had widespread support, however, Bari's attempts to dictate what was acceptable to say about the bombing were alienating supporters and raising suspicions that she was hiding something. Bruce Anderson of the Advertiser was among those growing suspicious of Bari, based largely on what he knew about the bitter aftermath of the 1988 divorce between Bari and Sweeney, and some aspects of Bari's post-bombing behavior that he regarded as suspicious, but publicly supported her position. As he later recalled:

I still feel guilty about not defending you [Talbot]. I wimped out completely. I knew she'd told you about Sweeney. Lots of people knew she'd told you. I was a complete dupe, a coward and a fool. I convinced myself that her work mobilizing people against the corporate timber companies outweighed unpleasant aspects of her character and the even more unpleasant aspects of her personal behavior.[22]

Efforts to tie the bombing to Sutley would set in motion a series of events leading to some supporters of Bari's narrative publicly shifting their suspicion towards Sweeney.[42] In 1995 the controversy over Sutley became a concern of Ed Gehrman, a teacher, Redwood Summer participant, and publisher of Flatland magazine, who was introduced to Sutley by a mutual friend. Gehrman had initially been suspicious that Sutley was the bomber and questioned him directly about it. Sutley denied being involved and disclosed to Gehrman that one Pam Davis, a friend of Bari, had on three separate occasions offered him $5000 to kill Sweeney some six years earlier. Bari would state in a radio broadcast that the solicitation was a joke misunderstood by her friend who conveyed the offer to Sutley.[22] Gehrman knew that someone had to be lying and conveyed that to the journalist Alexander Cockburn, who volunteered to pay for polygraph tests on the key players in the controversy. Sutley was the only one who accepted the offer and took a polygraph test, which he passed. After that, Gehrman considered Sutley credible and the issue of motive for harming Bari led his suspicion away from Sutley towards Sweeney. Gehrman found the details of Sutley's life at the time of the "Argus" letter not conducive to the contact with Bari that an informant would require. He also reasoned that it was implausible that an informant who received repeated murder-for-hire solicitations from their target would not pass the information on so it could be fully investigated.[43] When Gehrman presented the case for exculpating Sutley in the pages of Flatland Anderson reconsidered his support of Bari's position, drawing anger from Bari and her followers. Anderson was incensed by what he saw as Bari's willingness to smear an innocent man in order to promote a politically and financially fertile narrative that the timber industry or the FBI were involved in the bombing. Anderson theorized that murderous intentions emerged between Bari and Sweeney because of sufficient guilty knowledge of each party to destroy the other - a legal MAD scenario.[22] Meanwhile, Gehrman settled upon the "Argus," "no second warning," and "Lord's Avenger" letters as the best available evidence to resolve the identity of Bari's assailant. He submitted facsimiles of the three letters and their envelopes, along with exemplars of text written by various suspects, to Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College and expert in attributional analysis of documents. Foster's analysis was unequivocal: the three letters were from the same writer and they matched best with the exemplars from Sweeney.[44] Those results convinced Anderson, who made columns denouncing the mendacity of the posthumous Bari camp a regular feature in the Advertiser. Gehrman was approached in 2005 by one Jan Maxwell, an old friend of Pam Davis, who reported being approached by her with a murder-for-hire solicitation from Bari against Sweeney, placing the solicitations to Sutley within a larger pattern. The "joke" narrative advanced by Bari would require either the belief that in her conversations with her close friend circa 1989-90, she never corrected her on the true intentions of her remark to clear the misunderstandings of those who received the solicitations, or that Davis never acted to clear the misunderstandings that could compromise her friend. Gehrman presented a summary of his knowledge about the case, reprinted in the Advertiser in 2008.[27] In 2002, at the conclusion of the Bari/Cherney Civil Rights trial, Stephen Talbot went public reporting Bari's suspicion that Sweeney planted the car bomb and knowledge of Sweeney's 1980 firebombing of the Santa Rosa airport, in an article in Salon.com.[4]


Redwood Summer ended with Earth First! claiming success because they had trained so many volunteers in nonviolent resistance. Nevertheless, the numbers of participants in the protests were smaller than organizers had hoped and antagonism between environmentalists and timber workers was, if anything, increased.[45] Proposition 130 went down to defeat on November 6, 1990 after a campaign against it that emphasized its support from Earth First!.[46]

The northern California "Timber Wars" heated up again in 1998, as Earth First! remained dissatisfied with the final agreement establishing the Headwaters Forest Reserve. The division between the timber community and Earth First! was sharper than ever, as "anarchists" and other advocates of violence such as the convicted arsonist and Earth Liberation Front member Rodney Coronado gained prominence within Earth First!, making threats not only against industrial equipment and facilities, but individuals at their residences. Bari remained an icon in Earth First! lore while timber protests went in the opposite direction of the community-based image Bari wished to present.

The attempt on Bari's life remains an open case. Advocates of Bari's narrative have sought access to the remains of the partially-intact Cloverdale mill bomb that they hope will reveal DNA evidence linked to a suspect. In 2012, a federal judge ordered the FBI not to destroy the remains of that pipe bomb, as they had planned. It had only partially detonated about a week before the car bombing of Bari and Cherney, and investigators agreed that it had been built by the same bomber. Attorney for Darryl Cherney, Ben Rosenfeld, had requested that an outside lab perform DNA testing on the Cloverdale bomb, which the FBI claimed it had never performed, a request which the judge upheld.[47] The case remains under the jurisdiction of the City of Oakland and the Alameda County District Attorney. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has deferred on jurisdictional issues, claiming that there is insufficient evidence that the bomb was planted in Mendocino County.[48] DNA evidence from documents including the "Lord's Avenger" letter, which is strongly tied to Bari's assailant and also yielded a fingerprint, was presented in 2001, by joint agreement of the Bari advocates and the FBI. It does not match DNA samples obtained from Sutley.[42] Mike Sweeney has so far not submitted a DNA sample and there is no record from the advocates of the Bari narrative that they have requested one from him.[22][49]

Writing and public service career[edit]

Bari became a political writer as part of her interests in feminism, class struggle, and ecology. In May 1992, in her writing, she claimed to have feminized Earth First!, a radical environmentalist group that was founded by men.[50] In 1994 Bari headed a congressional advisory committee chartered by then-Congressman Dan Hamburg that advocated a much larger Headwaters Forest Reserve (44,000 acres) than the one that was actually acquired (7472 acres), including a compensation clause for lumber workers that would have been laid off because of establishment of the more extensive reserve.[51] The bill based on the "large reserve" proposal died when Hamburg lost his 1994 re-election bid. The 7472 acre reserve was incorporated into the bill passed on November 14, 1997, shortly after Bari's death.[52] By the end of 1996, Bari was working as a para-legal and hosting a weekly public radio show.[1]

Death and posthumous civil rights trial[edit]

On March 2, 1997, Bari died of breast cancer at her home near Willits.[53] A memorial service in her honor was attended by an estimated 1,000 people.[54]

Bari and Cherney had filed a federal civil rights suit claiming that the FBI and police officers falsely arrested the pair and attempted to frame them as terrorists so as to discredit their political organizing in defense of the redwood forests.[55]

In 1997, the law enforcement officers named in the civil rights suit were sued for conspiracy to violate Bari and Cherney's First and Fourth Amendment rights.[56] On October 15 that year, the agents lost their bid for immunity from prosecution.

Also on October 15, federal judge Claudia Wilken dismissed from the case FBI supervisor Richard Wallace Held, who had been prominent in the agency's COINTELPRO effort, on the grounds that he had no duty to oversee the daily duties of his subordinate agents.[57][58] The contention that the FBI was responsible for the bomb was also dismissed from the case, leaving the scope of the case restricted to malicious investigative malpractice on the part of the FBI, and the allowed damage claim reduced from $20 million to $4.4 million.

In 2002, a jury in Bari's and Cherney's federal civil lawsuit found that their civil rights had been violated.

As part of the jury's verdict, the judge ordered Frank Doyle and two other FBI agents and three Oakland police officers to pay a total of $4.4 million to Cherney and to Bari's estate.[59] The award was a response to the defendants' violation of the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and for the defendants' various unlawful acts, including unlawful search and seizure in violation of the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. At trial the FBI and the Oakland Police pointed fingers at each other.[53]

Oakland investigators testified that they relied almost exclusively on the F.B.I.'s counter-terrorism unit in San Francisco for advice on how to handle the case. But the F.B.I. agents denied misleading the investigators into believing that Ms. Bari and Mr. Cherney were violence-prone radicals who were probably guilty of transporting the bomb.[60]

While neither agency would admit wrongdoing, the jury held both liable, finding that "[B]oth agencies admitted they had amassed intelligence on the couple before the bombing."[61] This evidence supported the jury's finding that both the FBI and the Oakland police persecuted Bari and Cherney for being bombed instead of trying to find the true perpetrators in order to discredit and sabotage Earth First! and the upcoming Redwood Summer, thereby violating their First Amendment rights and justifying the large award. Simply, instead of looking for the actual assailant, they persecuted the victims of the attack because of their political activism.[62]

After the trial's gag order was lifted, jurors made it clear they believed the agents were blatant liars.

"Investigators were lying so much it was insulting . ... I'm surprised that they seriously expected anyone would believe them ... They were evasive. They were arrogant. They were defensive," said juror Mary Nunn.[63]


Many books and films contribute to Bari's legacy.

Judi Bari Day[edit]

On May 20, 2003, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted a resolution saying: "Whereas, Judi Bari was a dedicated activist, who worked for many social and environmental causes, the most prominent being the protection and stewardship of California's ancient redwood forests. ... Now, therefore, be it resolved that the City of Oakland shall designate May 24 as Judi Bari Day .[64]..


Books by Bari[edit]

  • Bari, Judi (May 1992). "The Feminization of Earth First!". History Is A Weapon.
  • Bari, Judi (1994). Timber Wars. Common Courage Press. ISBN 1567510264.
  • Bari, Judi (June 1997). "Revolutionary ecology". Capitalism Nature Socialism (published February 25, 2009). 8 (2): 145–149. doi:10.1080/10455759709358742.
  • Bari, Judi (1998). Revolutionary Ecology: Biocentrism & Deep Ecology. Doug Thron (Illustrator). Trees Foundation.

Books and articles about Bari[edit]

In early 2005, a critical biography of Bari titled The Secret Wars of Judi Bari, by Kate Coleman, drew fierce condemnation from Cherney, managers of Bari's estate (portion of the FBI settlement award), Bari's ex-husband and suspect in the bombing Michael Sweeney, and their followers, who claimed hundreds of factual errors and a bias against Bari and Earth First! They also pointed out that the book was published by Encounter Books, a non-profit publishing house founded by arch-conservative Peter Collier and funded primarily by arch-conservative foundations not sympathetic to Bari's causes. Coleman said that allegations of errors, and aspersions cast on the publisher, were being used as a smokescreen by the book's detractors, whose real aim is to preserve an incomplete and distorted memory of Ms. Bari.[65] In the book Coleman relies heavily on the accounts in Stephen Talbot's documentary, Who bombed Judi Bari?, and articles from the Anderson Valley Advertiser[22] in outlining the case that Bari's ex-husband had planted the bomb in hopes of killing her.[66] A review of the book in the Los Angeles Times by Mark Hertsgaard entitled, Too many rumors, too few facts to examine eco-activism case, said, "the reporting is thin and sloppy, and the humdrum prose is marred by dubious speculation."[67] However, the Times review was said by Ed Guthmann in a review in the San Francisco Chronicle to contain its own errors.[66] Critics of the book including Karen Pickett of Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Tanya Brannan of Redwood Summer Justice Fund, and Darryl Cherney point out its lack of information from their side, however, Coleman reported that those parties named were not responsive to her attempts at contact.

In Redwood Uprising,[68] IWW advocate Steve Ongerth speculates on the bombing being a collaboration between COINTELPRO operatives, representatives of the timber corporations, and anti-environmental extremists active in the redwood forest region of northwestern California in response to Bari's purported efforts to build alliances between radical environmentalists and rank and file timber workers opposing the corporations.


Year Tile Type Notes
1991 Who Bombed Judi Bari? Television documentary Made for television film by Stephen Talbot.[69]
2006 The Forest for the Trees: Judi Bari vs the FBI Documentary film The story of the case and the trial inspired an award-winning documentary movie, The Forest For The Trees.[70] The film, which aired on PBS and the Sundance Channel, follows the case through the lead attorney, civil rights legend Dennis Cunningham, and is told by his daughter, Bernadine Mellis. Among the awards the film received was the Grand Prize at the Green Film Festival in Seoul.
2012 Who Bombed Judi Bari? Documentary film The documentary Who Bombed Judi Bari?, produced by Darryl Cherney and directed by Mary Liz Thomson (not to be confused with the 1991 documentary of the same name by Stephen Talbot), was released in 2012. The film promotes the narrative that the FBI and/or the timber industry were responsible for the bombing. Cherney is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading the arrest of the bomber.[71][72][73]


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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h http://www.inforefuge.com/judi-bari-bio Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Clarke, Chris (December 22, 2015). "Activists Under Siege: Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney". KCET. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Talbot, Stephen (May 23, 2002). "The mysterious bombing of an environmental activist". Salon.com.
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  9. ^ Steve Ongerth. "Redwood Uprising, Chapter 25".
  10. ^ Darryl Cherney: "Destruction of machinery is morally justified under certain circumstances, while violence against other living things is not." Judi Bari: "History will remember people who destroy bulldozers as heroes ... you win a lawsuit to stop a logging plan, then the timber company files an identical plan the very next season. Besides sabotage, what else is left?" (Redwood Uprising, chapter 25)
  11. ^ a b Shantz, Jeffrey (December 2002). "Solidarity in the woods: redwood summer and alliances among radical ecology and timber workers". Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  12. ^ Littman, Jonathan (1990). "Peace, Love ... and TNT". California.
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  15. ^ Staff (May 25, 1990). "Protester takes aim at local law enforcement". Willits News. Willits News. p. 1.
  16. ^ War Against the Greens, p. 79-80.
  17. ^ War Against the Greens, p. 268.
  18. ^ a b The Symbolic Earth, pp. 265-268.
  19. ^ a b c d e Bosk, Beth (January 13, 1997). "The FBI Bomb School Connection". New Settler. Albion Monitor. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Cherney's public winks towards sabotage and outbursts of hostility towards timber industry workers while Bari was trying to form alliances between Earth First! and timber workers were reportedly issues in a growing rift between Cherney and Bari until they were both injured in the May 24, 1990 car bombing. Bari had been embarrassed when a mill worker confronted her with Cherney's 1989 album, They Sure Don't Make Hippies Like They Used To!, which contained four pro-tree spiking songs over a year after Earth First! publicly disavowed the practice. (Redwood Uprising, Chapter 31)
  21. ^ Michael Parrish (April 24, 1990). "Vandals Topple Utility's Power Lines : Sabotage: Blackouts hit Santa Cruz County. Group claims action was in retaliation for P G & E's 'farcical' support of environment". Los Angeles Times.
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  23. ^ Steve Ongerth. "Redwood Uprising, Chapter 34".
  24. ^ (Redwood Uprising, Chapter 31)
  25. ^ a b c Staff (June 1, 1990). "Agreement reached between timber and activists". Willits News. pp. 1, 13.
  26. ^ a b Wilken, Claudia (October 15, 1997). "Bari et al. v. Doyle et al". Decision and Order, pp. 2-3. United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  27. ^ a b Ed Gehrman. "Maxwell's Hammer". Anderson Valley Advertiser, June 12, 2008. Archived from the original on May 29, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  28. ^ The Last Stand, p. 325.
  29. ^ Wilken, Claudia (October 15, 1997). "Bari et al. v. Doyle et al". Decision and Order, pp. 46-47. United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  30. ^ Nuckolls, Les and Genny (May 30, 1990). "Redwood Summer sign size debate". Willits News. Willits News. p. 1.
  31. ^ Staff (May 30, 1990). "Protesters consider staying out of the woods". Willits News. Willits News. p. 1.
  32. ^ Switzer, Carrie (July 13, 1990). "Pro-timber rallies planned". Willits News. Willits News. pp. 1, 16.
  33. ^ Switzer, Carrie (July 13, 1990). "Thousands to converge in Fort Bragg". Willits News. Willits News. p. 1.
  34. ^ Brown, Lillian (July 25, 1990). "Timber workers rally to fight for jobs". Willits News. Willits News. p. 1.
  35. ^ Switzer, Carrie (July 25, 1990). "Well coordinated Redwood Summer protest". Willits News. Willits News. pp. 1, 14.
  36. ^ Wilken, Claudia (October 15, 1997). "Bari et al. v. Doyle et al". Decision and Order, pp. 51-53. United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  37. ^ The Last Stand, pp. 328-329.
  38. ^ War Against the Greens, p. 249.
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  42. ^ a b Will Harper (September 12, 2001). "The unsolved mysteries of Judi Bari". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016. Retrieved July 29, 2016.
  43. ^ None of the FBI files released under discovery in Bari's civil rights lawsuit mentioned a murder-for-hire solicitation from Bari, or an agent of Bari, to an informant.
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  54. ^ Jane Kay (March 10, 1997). "North Coast remembers "great leader' Judi Bari". SFGate.
  55. ^ Wilken, Claudia (October 15, 1997). "Bari et al. v. Doyle et al". Decision and Order. United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
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  57. ^ The Encyclopedia of American Law Enforcement, pp. 155-156.
  58. ^ Wilken, Claudia (October 15, 1997). "Bari et al. v. Doyle et al". Decision and Order, pp. 64-66. United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  59. ^ "'Who Bombed Judi Bari?' documentary seeks an answer". The Los Angeles Times. March 25, 2012.
  60. ^ "Environmentalists Win Bombing Lawsuit". The New York Times. June 12, 2002.
  61. ^ "Truth Is Still Elusive In 1990 Pipe Bombing". The New York Times. June 16, 2002.
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  63. ^ "Cops, FBI lied about probe, juror says / Woman speaks out on Earth First trial after gag order lifted". The San Francisco Chronicle. September 5, 2010.
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  70. ^ "The Forest for the Trees: Judi Bari vs. the FBI". BAMPFA. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
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