On May 24, 1990, a car being driven by union organizer, feminist and Earth First! activist Judi Bari was blown up by a bomb in Oakland, California. She and fellow activist Darryl Cherney survived the blast, but Bari suffered crippling injuries to her pelvis that left the mother of two in pain for the rest of her life.
Bari had proven herself remarkably effective in rallying public support to save the ancient redwood forests of northern California from clear-cutting. But she had also made enemies in the logging industry, receiving many death threats and having her car rammed by a logging truck.
The car-bombing made national headlines, with Oakland police and FBI bomb experts quickly placing the blame on Bari and Cherney, even though it was clear that the bomb had been placed directly under the driver’s seat.
In order to clear their names and derail a COINTELPRO-style frame-up, they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police and the FBI. Howard Zinn offered to provide expert testimony in the case, as is outlined in his letter to the lead counsel.
Bari had panic attacks when she learned that the FBI’s lead bomb expert had conducted a “bomb school” for police officers on the property of Louisiana-Pacific Lumber Company one month before the car bombing. But she persevered with her forest-defense activism, until she succumbed to breast cancer at age 47 in 1997.
In 2002, a jury found that the Oakland police department and the FBI had blatantly lied about the case and awarded $4.4 million in damages.
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