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Judi Bari’s gentle lesson in nonviolence

A couple years ago some Colorado Springs activist organizations had a chance to host a public screening of a documentary about Judi Bari and her posthumus court victory against the FBI. It turned out the Feds had planted the bomb with which they tried to discredit her, and kill her too. Judi recovered but died of cancer before she could hear a jury award 4.4 million dollars for the FBI’s trying to rob her and the Earth First movement of their First Amendment voice.

Well, the locals activists hadn’t yet seen the documentary, or hadn’t understood the headlines, and so remembered Judi according to the FBI’s slander. The locals thought Judi Bari might be a poor example for nonviolence advocates and they all but scuttled the event.

Utah Phillips recalls driving with Judi Bari the day before the bomb struck, and recounts this advice she offered him about why she believed in nonviolence.

Judi Bari on nonviolence, as told to Utah Phillips

Talking about the non-violence,
Judy Barry said: The man,
and I mean THE MAN,
can escalate the violence
from a cop on the beat with a handgun
all the way up to a hydrogen bomb
and everything in between.
He’s always saying “come up that road,
come up that road of armed struggle
because I own that road.
Come up that road and it’ll kill you.”

We don’t use that road. She said
You got to take a road he doesn’t own,
a road he doesn’t know anything about,
that road of non-violence, of nonviolent direct action.

Nonviolence is not a tactic, it’s not a strategy,
it is a way of life, it is a practical, practical necessity.

4 thoughts on “Judi Bari’s gentle lesson in nonviolence

  1. It’s a good story from the late Utah Phillips that illustrates Judi Bari’s intelligent analysis. However, no one in the Bari legal camp has accused the FBI of planting the bomb that almost killed her. Sure, early on, Judi quipped that “the FBI should find the bomber … and fire him.” However it is more likely that the bombing was done by a hireling of the timber corporations, and the real motive was the billions of dollars that the loggers had at stake.

    A federal jury found in 2002 that the FBI covered up the ample, clear evidence that Judi was the target of the bomb and not its owner or builder. The FBI and their minions at the Oakland Police Department deliberately falsified evidence and lied under oath to try to frame Judi for the bombing, and did so specifically to discredit her and the Earth First! movement as violent radical extremists, rather than the nonviolent forest defenders they really were.

    At that time, the timber industry was fighting a ballot initiative on California’s November 1990 ballot that would have ended the liquidation logging plans of a handful of big corporate loggers, particularly Pacific Lumber Company. Texas corporate raider Charles Hurwitz seized control of the family-owned PL in 1985 by means of a junk-bond financed hostile takeover. Hurwitz immediately tripled the rate of logging in the world’s largest remaining stand of old growth redwoods so as to pay the high interest rates on the junk bonds. Hurwitz had a plan to fully liquidate the holdings of Pacific Lumber, including the redwoods as well as the sawmills, the corporate headquarters building, the company town of Scotia, and every other asset. His plan needed 20 to 25 years of mostly clearcut logging to finish the job, and suck at least $2 billion out of the company.

    Only 5 years into the game, a 1990 ballot initiative would have banned clearcutting in all of California, placed a moratorium on all old-growth forest logging, and ended corporate control of the California Board of Forestry that made the rules governing logging. Billions of dollars were at stake, not only for Hurwitz and his Houston based Maxxam Corporation, but also for Louisiana Pacific and Georgia Pacific, two large corporations which together had bought into 500,000 acres of redwood forest lands in Mendocino County, where Judi Bari lived and worked.

    The three corporations formed a joint venture to defeat the initiative, known formally as Proposition 130, and informally as the Forests Forever Initiative. Whether or not the corporadoes planned the bombing and framing of Judi Bari, they most certainly conducted a sustained media smear of Judi, Earth First! and the whole forest defense movement, branding them as violent “ecoterrorists” in the public mind.

    So the corporations certainly capitalized on the bombing and frame-up, and they were certainly the ones who benefited financially from it by using it as a tool to turn the public against environmental reformers and defeat Prop. 130, which lost by a small percentage.

    Eric’s story said Colorado Springs activists almost scuttled the showing of the award-winning documentary, The Forest For The Trees, about Judi Bari’s legal case against the FBI, because they thought she was a poor example for non-violence. That shows how successful was the logging corporations’ 1990 PR effort to smear Judi in nationwide public opinion. The false accusations against Judi, completely contradicted by the evidence, were plastered over front pages and TV news for nearly two months after the bombing. The FBI’s lawyers succeeded in delaying trial in Judi’s suit until 12 years after the bombing, and five years after Judi’s death. When the jury unanimously exonerated Judi, the story did not get even 1% of the coverage that the original frame-up did.

    Before she died early in 1997, Judi and her legal team fought hard to use the legal process to uncover the real evidence exonerating Judi that the FBI successfully kept hidden for three years after the bombing. Through over 10,000 pages of FBI records, including photographic evidence of the bombed car, and the car itself, Judi showed the media that she was innocent, and had been set up and framed. But her exoneration wasn’t covered by the national media that had carried the accusations. The result was, as Judi said, that people in her home area knew she had been framed, but when she traveled to the East Coast, people still saw her as that “terrorist who got blown up by her own bomb.”

    A famous person once said that a lie can go halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on.

    Visit the Judi Bari website at http://www.judibari.org

  2. “Industry Hirelings” … yep, that’s a good description of the Korporate Gestapo Kops.

    Notice that the Mighty FBI is still not investigating to find out who, exactly, did the bombing.

    That makes them complicit in the crime.

  3. Bari it turns out was not a target of Big Timber or the FBI. Go to the website for the Anderson Valley Advertiser “www.theava.com” and click on the special Judi Bari section in the archives. Bari who once wrote for the Advertiser turns out to be the victim of domestic violence – bombed by her ex in a bitter dispute over children and property. Bari herself twice tried to have the ex murdered before he bombed her.

  4. Bruce Anderson should rename his paper now called the Anderson Valley Advertiser to the Bruce Anderson Self Advertiser, don’t you think? Here’s Bruce selling himself…

    ‘The Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA) is a community-based, small-town weekly whose perspective on everything is likely to be at odds with received opinion. You haven’t read another paper like it because there isn’t one. Lots of people think the AVA is the best weekly newspaper in the country.’

    Yeah, right…??? If the writing material there is evidence of ‘the best weekly newspaper in the country’ then we are in serious trouble as a country! Bruce is a big bore and pompous ass! In fact, he’s a typical small business owner spouting himself off as some great world intellectual-reporter-editor.

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