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Film 'Who Bombed Judi Bari?' shows at Laemmle Monica

March 28, 2012|By Dean Kuipers
  • A pipe bomb exploded in the car of forest activist Judi Bari on May 24, 1990, injuring her and Earth First! colleague Darryl Cherney. They were initially suspected but cleared. The new film "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" chronicles her victorious suit against law enforcement and the search for the bomber.
A pipe bomb exploded in the car of forest activist Judi Bari on May 24, 1990,… (Oakland Police Department )

The Sunday Los Angeles Times featured my story about the new documentary film, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" which plays Wednesday at the Laemmle Monica in Santa Monica. Not only a gripping story about a campaign to save the last stands of coastal old-growth redwoods in California in the 1980s and '90s -- some of which were actually saved -- the film details one of the most horrific, and inspiring, stories of environmental activism in the U.S., on a par with the stories of Erin Brokovich or Karen Silkwood.

And, as the title suggests, the film demands an answer to the question: who, exactly, bombed Earth First! forest activist Judi Bari?

On May 24, 1990, Bari and and fellow Earth Firster Darryl Cherney were driving across Oakland to a rally in support of Redwood Summer, a months-long occupation of the timberlands of Northern California, when Bari's car exploded. A powerful pipe bomb placed underneath the driver's seat of her Subaru went off, nearly killing the 40-year-old mother of two young girls.

Within hours, the Oakland police and FBI had decided they would charge Bari and Cherney with carrying their own bomb. The campaign against them ramped up for months, but as activists and attorneys woke up to what was happening, the charges were dropped and the pair went on the offensive, suing law enforcement for trying to frame them.

And, incredibly, they won. In 2002, a jury found the FBI and Oakland police responsible for false arrest and other charges, awarding the pair $4.4 million, 80% of which was awarded for a "conspiracy" by law enforcement to deprive the two of their 1st Amendment rights.

The bomber, however, has never been caught.

See the Sunday story to get a better sense of this mind-boggling tale. Better yet, see the compelling film, which was made by Cherney and L.A.-based documentarian Mary Liz Thomson.

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