FBI’s finest moments: Accusing Earth First! of Terrorism

1990: FBI targets environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney of Earth First! with failed car bomb attack with the intent to kill them, then accuses them of being terrorists.

Bari and Cherney sued the FBI and Oakland Police and won.

On June 11, 2002, a federal jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their landmark civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers.

The jury unanimously found that six of the seven FBI and OPD defendants tried to frame Judi and Darryl in an effort to crush Earth First! and chill participation in Redwood Summer. That was evident in the fact that 80% of the $4.4 million total damage award was for violation of their First Amendment rights to speak out and organize politically in defense of the forests.

The Judy Bari Website

Most people will not recall the outcome of the trial, or even the car bombing, but they will remember the vilification of Earth First!
They were painted as domestic terrorists by through the evening network newscasts. They were no more terrorists than Greenpeace, but they were nonetheless very militant with daring acts of civil disobedience like lying down in the path of logging trucks, loud demonstrations in the heart of enemy territory and trespassing onto logging company property to surround trees to save them from the chainsaws. No bombs, no guns, no molotov cocktails, no property damage such as punctured tires or indelible graffiti.

A popular term from the drama of “Redwood Summer” is still in use today: “tree huggers,” back in its day a very derogatory term. But it originates from the group Earth First!, who would block access to or surround and hug a tree to prevent the sawyers from sawing it down. They would chain themselves to trees targeted for felling as well as climb high into redwood trees to make it impossible to harvest the tree without committing murder.
So, when you hear the term “tree hugger”, the actions of Earth First! in the redwood forests of California in the 80s is where it originated!

The battle against logging abuses in California continues. While public lands have had off and on moratoriums, private property is still fair game, and on private property the agency inn charge of approving logging plans is the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire).

More than one third of the Sierra Nevada is privately owned. Clearcutting is still allowed on private timberlands in California, and is now the primary logging methodology used in the Sierra Nevada.

The California department of Forestry and Fire Protection is known for approving permits to log, not denying them. Though approval is usually uncontested, the first step to getting the permit is submitting Timber Harvest Plan, and if you have the time to pour through hundreds of plans and submit a comment objecting to it, you can slow the process.

Note: Many of the pages in a THP are boiler plate documents meant to ward off environmental lawsuits. Though seemingly useless, they sometimes contain tidbits of useful information. THP Numbers
THP’s are filed under a numeric code. Here’s an example of a real north coast THP: 1-08-161-Hum.

The first number is the region in which the THP is located (1= north coast region, 2= cascade region). The second number is the last two digits of the year in which it was filed. The third number is the order in which it was filed. The last is the abbreviation for the county.

The labor unions – in this case the California Department of Forestry Employee Association – opposes closing off areas to logging, and hence need for a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Official propaganda claims logging reduces fire danger by reducing fuels, but the opposite is true: it increases fire danger by removing the fire-resistant old growth trees and introducing kindling vegetation.

A Google search shows how slow progress has been…

California could end clear-cutting – California – Salon.com
Aug 23, 2000 …
Is a California Statewide Ban On Clear Cutting Possible? : Planetsave
Dec 5, 2008 …
Google search

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