by Mary Liz Thomson and Darryl Cherney
Hokey Pokey Productions
DVD, 93 minutes
Who Bombed Judi Bari? is a story about beating the system and saving the trees; a film that resonates today as we face deteriorating civil rights and the huge ecological problems that bring us closer to catastrophic climate change.
In the mid 1980’s the pace of old growth redwood forest clear-cutting increased dramatically in California and lead to a resistance movement spearheaded by Earth First! Only 5% of the redwoods remained at that time – and the fear was that soon they would all be gone. Local activists called for national help, planning a summer of protests in the style used in Mississippi during the civil rights struggles, called Redwood Summer.
But on May 24 in 1990, a bomb blew up in the car of two of the most prominent Earth First! redwood activists: Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney – while they were driving through Oakland, CA on an organizing tour for Redwood Summer. The FBI and Oakland Police immediately accused the pair of carrying their own bomb and of being environmental terrorists. The story played out for weeks in the press – the victims were the suspects.
To vindicate their work and their names, Bari and Cherney launched a lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police for violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. When their case went to trial in 2002 -- THEY WON! They proved that law enforcement officers intentionally falsified evidence and tried to frame them, and were given one of the largest jury awards of its kind in history, $4.4 million dollars.
The story spans from the mid 1980’s right up to today, uniquely capturing a part of environmental history that is still as relevant as ever. Just this Fall of 2012, Darryl and his legal team are in court again, trying to prevent the FBI from throwing away crucial evidence that was never tested, and could prove who the bomber was.
Judi Bari emerges as an authentic environmental heroine, whose warnings from the past about the dangers of deforestation and global warming hardly seem extreme. Rather they loom large as a dangerous harbinger of the failure to heed their messages.
Not Rated. Subtitles in Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese, English.