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Judi Bari

Judi Bari (1949-1997) was an environmentalist and labor leader, a feminist, and the principal organizer of Earth First! campaigns against logging in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California.

On May 24, 1990, Bari was severely injured by a pipe bomb which exploded beneath the driver seat of her car as she and fellow Earth First!er Darryl Cherney traveled through Oakland, California, on an organizing tour for Redwood Summer, a campaign of nonviolent protests. 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. The accusations against the pair were kept alive for weeks by leaks of claimed evidence tying them to the bomb. After nearly two months, the district attorney declined to file any formal charges against Bari and Cherney, citing lack of evidence.

Bari had received numerous death threats from timber industry supporters 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. A year later, when it was clear that police and the FBI had made no real effort to find the person who put the bomb in Bari's car, Bari and Cherney filed a federal civil rights suit claiming that the FBI and police officers attempted to frame them for political motives, to falsely smear them as violent terrorists in order to neutralize them and the Earth First! movement. Bari died in 1997, of breast cancer.

In 2002, a jury in their federal civil lawsuit exonerated Bari and Cherney by ordering four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers to pay a total of 4.4 million dollars to Cherney and to Bari's estate for violation of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and for false arrest and unlawful search and seizure.

In a major reversal of position, 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 and celebrate and honor the work of Judi Bari in advancing the causes of forest protection, eco-feminism, labor organizing, bridge building between environmentalists and timber workers, and civil rights for political activists; and be it further resolved that the City shall encourage its schools, civic institutions and citizens to memorialize Judi Bari's work through art, media, festivals, school assignments and other creative means."

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