Monday, May 24, 2010

Judi Bari

Judi Bari bombed 20 years ago

Events: May 23-24, 2010
The 20th anniversary of the pipe bomb attack on Judi Bari, Darryl Cherney and Earth First! on May 24, 1990 will be recognized in events in the San Francisco Bay Area over the course of two days.

Twenty years ago on May 24, 1990, a bomb planted in the car of Earth First! activist Judi Bari exploded, sending her and fellow activist Darryl Cherney to the hospital in Oakland--Judi with life-threatening injuries, since the bomb had been hidden directly under her driver's seat. Judi and Darryl were on their way to a music and speaking event on the UC Santa Cruz campus, part of an organizing tour for Redwood Summer.

That explosion, and the subsequent attack on Earth First! as well as Judi and Darryl by the FBI and Oakland police, would forever change the face of forest activism in the redwoods and elsewhere. The bomber was never found, because the FBI never conducted a serious investigation, choosing instead to blame and harass Earth First! activists. But a lawsuit filed by Judi against the FBI for violation of Constitutional rights was ultimately successful in 2002, vindicating Darryl and Judi, but coming five years after Judi's untimely death from breast cancer at the age of 47.

Redwood Summer, 1990, was a mass mobilization of students and others from across the United States to protest the deforestation of the redwood region in Northern California, which was being decimated by the corporate chain saw. The mobilization was modeled after Mississippi Summer, a major organizing effort in the nation's civil rights movement in the South in the 1960s. A key architect and organizer of Redwood Summer was labor and environmental leader Judi Bari. The bomb which nearly killed her was preceded and followed by a smear campaign against Earth First!, carried out by the FBI, which tried to charge Darryl and Judi for the bombing, and tried to brand the deep ecology group Earth First! as a terrorist organization.

Sunday, May 23, 7 pm:
Revolutionary Ecology: a commemoration and a celebration of revolutionary resistance and movement solidarity.

La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck, Berkeley)
Speakers include Ramona Africa, from Move in Philadelphia, Dennis Cunningham, lead attorney in the Judi Bari vs FBI case, and climate justice activist Gopal Dayeneni

Live music will feature Darryl Cherney, Mokai, Alicia Littletree, K. Rudin, Gary Ball and others. The event will include a film tribute to Judi, exciting historical exhibit and much more.

The event Sunday night was a celebration of Judi's life and a rededication of ourselves to resistance to the attempted corporate take over of the planet. Judi's attorney Mr. Cunningham stated it was time to neutralize the government, to take its philosophy or mandates re: black nationalists organizations in its COINTELPRO program and use it on it. Ramona Africa, here from Philadelphia said she and Judi both knew first hand what the government of the United States was capable of, dropping bombs on homes and killing adults and children and blowing up cars. In both the MOVE bombing 25 years ago and in the car bombing 20 years ago, the victims were charged and in Ramona's case sent to prison.

The film was a pleasant reminder of Judi and captured her commitment to the work she died defending. I wondered about her children and how they were this anniversary, 20 years later.

I remember Judi'd kindness and willingness to participate in a simultaneous reading for Mumia Abu Jamal when he was to be executed on Marcus Garvey's Birthday. The readings were at Diesal Books, Walden Pond and La Pena Cultural Center. She shared work from Mumia's Death Blossoms. We spoke about her radio show, her kids, and the long drive home later that evening...but she came with her kids, if I remember correctly.

And then she was gone before our paths could cross again.

Monday, May 24, 11:30 a.m.:

Marking the moment: To mark the moment of the late morning bomb explosion, people from near and far will gather at 11:30 am at the Oakland site where the bomb blasted through Judi's car, nearly killing her and forever changing the Earth First! movement. The site is in front of Oakland High School, on Park Blvd near East 33rd. Please come and stand in solidarity with those who experienced that day. There will be music and a speak-out.

Cosponsors of these events include Earth First!, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH). Both events are free.


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