FBI Domestic Intelligence Activities

COINTELPRO Revisited - Bari/Cherney

NOTE: Judi Bari just recently passed away after fighting the after affects of her car-bombing for 7 years.

 Progress in Bari/Cherney Suit Against the F.B.I.: The NewCOINTELPRO of the
   by Judi Bari
   On May 24, 1990, Darryl Cherney and I were driving through Oakland on
   an organizing tour for Earth First!/Redwood Summer when a bomb
   exploded under the driver's seat of my car. Within minutes of the
   blast, the FBI and the Oakland Police Department moved in and arrested
   us on suspicion of carrying explosives. They lied outrageously,
   claiming that the bomb had been in the back seat, when their own
   photos showed clearly its location directly under me. [See _Partisan_
   No. 1 for photo. -- editors.]
   We survived the blast, but I have been crippled for life. Neither the
   FBI nor the Oakland Police made any attempt to find our would-be
   assassins, but instead used the bombing as a pretext to begin an
   investigation of the environmental movement.
   For the past few years Darryl and I have been battling the FBI over
   their outrageous treatment of us in the 1990 car-bombing. We have
   filed a civil rights lawsuit against them, and we have been seeking a
   Congressional investigation. Now, finally, both of these efforts seem
   to be bearing fruit.
   Courtroom Victory
   The civil rights lawsuit has passed its final legal hurdle, and is now
   headed for trial. In a strongly worded, 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court
   of Appeals turned down the FBI's third and last attempt to get the
   case thrown out of court. Our lawsuit charges the FBI and Oakland
   Police with false arrest and civil rights violations. We claim that
   they knew perfectly well that Darryl and I were innocent, and that we
   were in fact victims of a brutal assassination attempt. Yet the FBI
   and police arrested us for the bombing, and conducted a slanderous
   campaign against us in the press, as part of a plan to defame and
   discredit Earth First!
   The appeals court has upheld our right to make all these changes,
   including those about the FBI's underlying motive to discredit Earth
   First!, based on the strength of the evidence we have collected so
   far. This evidence includes the police photos of the bombing scene
   that show beyond a doubt that the FBI and police deliberately lied
   when they arrested Darryl and me for knowingly carrying the bomb. We
   have also gotten access to over 5,000 pages of FBI files on the
   bombing case. These files have revealed a whole new layer of FBI
   misdeeds, going even beyond what we expected.
   Sweeping Surveillance
   The FBI files show that no legitimate search for the bomber was ever
   conducted. Instead, the FBI used this case as an excuse to investigate
   environmentalists and their associates, both locally and nationally,
   in a sweeping campaign reminiscent of the 1950's red scare.
   Locally, under the guise of investigating the bombing, the FBI looked
   through the letters to the editor files of nine small hometown
   newspapers, and confiscated letters from environmentalists. The FBI
   also interviewed local police, management personnel from the timber
   companies, and Wise Use Movement anti-environmental activists, asking
   them to submit names of and information about any and all
   environmentalists. Using these methods, they collected data on
   approximately 150 Earth First!ers and other environmental activists in
   the redwood region.
   Nationally, the FBI obtained the telephone records of fourteen Earth
   First!ers and compiled a list of 634 out-of-state phone calls we had
   made. The FBI then investigated each of these 634 phone numbers,
   gathering information including names, addresses, physical
   descriptions, places of employment, criminal records, and political
   Another example of scandalous FBI behavior revealed in the bombing
   file involves freedom of the press. In one memo to headquarters, San
   Francisco FBI director Richard Held complained about an article
   written by _Santa Rosa Press Democrat_ reporter Mike Geniella. In that
   article, Geniella documented the FBI's targeting of Earth First! in
   Arizona, Montana, and California. Richard Held states in his memo that
   he intends to complain to the _Press Democrat_'s editors about Mike
   Geniella's reporting, and suggests that FBI chief William Sessions
   complain to the _Press Democrat_'s parent newspaper, the _New York
   Times_. A few weeks later, Geniella was disciplined by the _Press
   Democrat_, and removed from his position as timber reporter.
   Congressional Hearings
   The FBI's investigations of people whose only crime was writing a
   letter to the editor or receiving a phone call from an activist
   violates our most basic rights of privacy, freedom of speech, and
   freedom of association. The use of false charges to frame and
   discredit activists recalls J. Edgar Hoover's illegal COINTELPRO
   campaign of political repression, used to disrupt and destroy activist
   groups in the 1960's and '70's.
   Most extraordinary of all, we found out during the "discovery" phase
   of our lawsuit that law enforcement officers who quickly appeared on
   the scene after the attempted murder of Darryl Cherney and myself had
   just come from an FBI "bomb school" held on Louisiana-Pacific Lumber
   Company land near Eureka. At the school, FBI and other officers
   practiced blowing up cars with bombs so they could "investigate the
   Help Needed
   We have gotten support for this case from various social justice
   organizations, including the Center for Constitutional Rights in New
   York. Our awesome legal team, headed by Dennis Cunningham of San
   Francisco, has also donated many hours of free legal work. But with
   the current heightened level of activity in this case, this is no
   longer enough, and we must turn to our supporters for help.
   There is a virtual press blackout on the case outside northern
   California. If you can spread the word in any way, please contact us.
   If you would like to receive updates on the bombing case, please write
   to Redwood Summer Justice Project, and we will put you on our mailing
   And of course, if you can contribute toward our costs, any amount
   large or small will be appreciated. Checks to fund our FBI work should
   be made out to Redwood Summer Justice Project and mailed to the
   address below. If you would like your contribution to be tax
   deductible, please indicate this on your check.
   Redwood Summer Justice Project, P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa, California
   [Judi Bari is a Mendocino County labor and environmental activist.]
   From: The PARTISAN, Post Office Box 24764, Oakland, California 94623.
   Four Issue Subscription: $2; E-Mail (Internet):

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