Judi Bari

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Judi Bari (November 7, 1949 – March 2, 1997) was an American environmentalist and labor leader, a feminist, and the principal organizer of Earth First! campaigns against logging in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California in the 1980s and '90. She also organized efforts through Earth First! - Industrial Workers of the World Local 1 to bring timber workers and environmentalists together in common cause.

On May 24, 1990, Bari was severely injured by a pipe bomb which exploded in her car as she and fellow Earth First! member Darryl Cherney traveled through Oakland, California, on their way to Santa Cruz. Bari and Cherney were on an organizing tour for "Redwood Summer", a campaign of nonviolent protests focused on saving redwood forests in Northern California and building connections with loggers through the IWW.

When the Oakland police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately accused Bari and Cherney of knowingly carrying a bomb for use in an act of terrorism, the story made headlines nationwide. Bari's supporters pointed out that the explosive was a pipe bomb packed with nails for shrapnel effect, and that it was equipped with a motion trigger to ensure that it would explode only when the car was driven by Bari. The bomb was also placed directly under the driver's seat, not in the back seat or luggage area as it presumably would have been if Bari had been transporting it knowingly. After seven weeks of continual news stories citing repeated police claims that all evidence pointed to Bari and Cherney as culprits, the District Attorney announced that he would not file any formal charges against the pair due to insufficient evidence against them.

The bomb closely resembled one that had been left outside a Louisiana Pacific lumber mill office in Cloverdale, CA. That bomb included a pipe bomb and a can of gasoline, but it misfired, failing to ignite and doing no damage. Bari denied any connection with the lumber mill bomb, which she suspected was placed specifically to frame her, as it was found next to a homemade sign saying "LP screws millworkers," which was something she would be expected to say.

The bomb in Oakland on May 24 also closely resembled "crime scenes" fabricated by the FBI in a "bomb school" held in redwood country earlier that year. 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.

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.

Just days after the bombing, while Bari was still in hospital, Mike Geniella of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat received a letter claiming responsibility for placing the bomb in Bari's car and at the Cloverdale L-P mill. It was written in a high-flown, biblical style and signed "The Lord's Avenger," who stated further that his or her motivation was Bari's defense of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Ukiah, California, during an anti-abortion protest. The letter also described the construction of the bombs in great detail. Some, including Bari and her friends, suspected at first that The Lord's Avenger was Bill Staley, a mill worker and religiously zealous man who had harassed the director of the Ukiah clinic, allegedly threatening to rape her and to blow up the clinic itself on several occasions. Bari later came to believe, however, that Staley was not responsible for the letter, which she felt was intended to sow confusion and throw people off the track of the true bomber.

A year after the still unsolved bombing, Bari and Cherney 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.

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