Last April I wrote here about a new documentary that was to be released soon about Judi Bari, a courageous woman who had a strong impact on me and the RFC project in its early stages.
Judi was a remarkably dynamic person. She was a union organizer, carpenter, musical performer and environmental firebrand who led Earth First’s efforts to save Northern California old growth Redwoods from corporate clear cutting in the late 1980’s. Judi was blown up in her car in Oakland, California in May 1990 while she was in the midst of organizing Earth First’s “Redwood Summer Campaign,” a daring plan to bring thousands of young people into the forests to disrupt the summer logging efforts. The bomb, planted under the driver’s seat, shattered Judi’s pelvis and crushed her backbone, but she survived.
Tragically, she died of cancer just seven years later.
The RFC was still in its infancy when I first met Judi at a conference of environmental and civil rights activists at the Highlander Center in 1991. Those in attendance shared their stories. They’d taken on some of this nation’s most powerful corporate polluters and suffered horrible retribution as a result. I attended to spread the word to these good people that the RFC would do everything in its power to help their families.
Judi introduced me to a nationwide network of anti-corporate agitators, and a new concept: “corporate harassment.” The RFC also started helping her two children, then six and nine, and continued to aid them until they graduated college. In 2000, three years after Judi’s death, we dedicated our staging of Celebrate the Children of Resistance in Berkeley, California to her memory.
Judi never stopped fighting. The FBI, rather than search for the bomber, immediately arrested Judi and her companion, Darryl Cherney, for transporting explosives. Judi and Darryl counter-punched, ultimately winning a $4.4 million judgment against the FBI. (This victory came after Judi’s death.) This remains the only case in which a victim of FBI repression has won monetary damages.
While Judi Bari was vindicated, albeit posthumously, the mystery of who bombed her remains. Who Bombed Judi Bari?, the 93-minute documentary produced by Darryl Cherney that chronicles this astonishing story, is now making the rounds at film festivals and is accumulating awards. This weekend it will be screened in New york City at the Harlem International Film Festival, Maysles Cinema, 343 Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Blvd. (between 127th and 128th Streets), at 2pm. For more information including a trailer and schedule of other showings, visit http://whobombedjudibari.com.
I urge people to see this film and to help arrange local screenings. This is an important piece of progressive history that must not be forgotten.
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