Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Killing Judi Bari again

The story in today's SF Chronicle on Kate Coleman's new book about Judi Bari jogged my memory about her and the still-unknown, would-be assassin who put a bomb under the driver's seat of her car in 1990.

Since her death from cancer in 1997, the charismatic Earth First! organizer has been continuously defamed by a small group of less-than-admirable people. I was living in Boonville and writing for my brother's paper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser after her arrival on the Northcoast and at the time of the assassination attempt. Although he supported Bari and Redwood Summer in 1990, my brother, for reasons I still don't understand, turned on Bari and endorsed---continues to endorse---the theory that the assassination attempt was not a political act but, instead, an act of domestic violence committed by Bari's ex-husband. There's no real evidence for this theory, which I explain in a piece I wrote several years ago. By reading this, you can get a quick introductory course on the issues involved and why the ex-husband-did-it theory is without merit.

Whoever planted the bomb in Bari's car almost certainly did it for political reasons. The result of the bombing: Bari was removed from the key leadership role in Redwood Summer in 1990, a projected summer-long series of demonstrations to publicize the timber industry's destruction of the forests on the Northcoast. Bari and her Earth First! friend Darryl Cherney were the key organizers of Redwood Summer. Many forget too that an important timber reform measure, Forests Forever, was on the state ballot and it went down to a narrow defeat later that year. It's hard to believe that the bombing of Judi Bari and the defeat of the Forests Forever initiative were unrelated.

I haven't read the Kate Coleman book yet, but preliminary indications are that the book is a political hit-piece published by right-winger Peter Collier and Encounter Books. For those who want more information about Bari, the assassination attempt, and the ongong defamation campaign, the best writing on the subject is by Nick Wilson for The Albion Monitor.
The Chronicle's Style Book: the mainstream press has an annoying habit of omitting the exclamation point from Earth First! How they justify this I don't know, since that is the name of the group and how it is spelled. I think it's just their way of showing contempt for a radical environmental group. I also think it's crappy journalism, and they should get it right.

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