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Redwood Uprising: From One Big Union to Earth First! and the Bombing of Judi Bari

To know who bombed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, it is much more important to determine why they bombed Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.

The two were targeted because they represented a viable democratic, populist, grassroots challenge to the powers that be, in this case, Corporate Timber, and its established paradigm of total control over the redwood forests of California’s North Coast and by extension—as you will see in this book—America’s forests in general, the modern timber industry, and capitalism itself. They stood upon the crest of a wave of change that was poised to undermine the existing order, and she was more than willing to ride it to its conclusion. That wave was a confluence of both environmentalist and labor movements and, if left unchecked in its course, it could very well have washed away institutions, both “private” and “public” that were, by many people’s accounts, corrupt and rotten to their very core.

This book chronicles these struggles and how a divided community began to overlook their differences and fight against the real outside agitators: multinational corporations. The struggle is no less relevant today as multinational corporations continue to receive massive bailouts, working people struggle more and more just to make ends meet, and global warming threatens not only old growth forests, but civilization as we know it.

The book will soon be available in hard copy, but in the meantime, the individual chapters are being released weekly on this site. To read them in order, visit this page.

The most recently published chapter is featured immediately below:

Chapter 38 : Conclusion

In spite of the bombing, Bari had lived, which was a huge miracle by itself, and it is clear that whomever planted the bomb in her vehicle had not intended for her to have done so. The bomber had also not planned on Cherney’s presence in the vehicle (his decision to ride with Bari had been unplanned and made at the last possible moment). The bomb had been meant to kill Bari and her alone, and leave behind a mystery, a discredited leader, and fractured and broken movement. Cherney’s having also been there and having gone through the trauma had created the unintended consequence of providing Bari with a witness who could independently verify and corroborate her every word (which, as it turned out, he did) thus further undermining any case that could be made for her guilt. Nevertheless, the bombing was nothing short of a huge tragedy for Judi Bari, due to the physical and emotional trauma and the intense pain and suffering she endured afterwards. While it may be something of a stretch to say that the bombing ultimately led to Bari’s death (in March 1997 due to breast cancer) even that is not out of the question, and the loss of her life was a major setback to those who would challenge business as usual.

Bari’s and Cherney’s legal triumph was a victory, but not the final victory. The question of who bombed them still remains unsolved, but assuming that Bari and Cherney and their supporters (and to be certain the author is one) are correct, and the bombing was indeed a conspiracy involving both Corporate Timber and the FBI, the answer to the question, “Why?” bears little mystery at all.

Clearly someone was trying to disrupt, discredit, and misdirect the coalescing radical, populist opposition to Corporate Timber on the North Coast, whether they participated in the bombing or not. Certainly, the bombing was itself designed to do that, so it makes sense to conclude that the bombing and the disruption were part of a single, multifaceted effort. If asked, “cui bono?” the most likely answer is a combination of Corporate Timber (namely representatives from all three of the major corporations, Georgia-Pacific, Louisiana-Pacific, and Pacific Lumber) with the help of the FBI with the tacit (or perhaps approval) of the Bush (senior) Administration. The FBI had gone to great lengths to try and discredit Earth First! already in Arizona, and clearly the same telltale signs of a COINTELPRO operation are evident in the Bari and Cherney bombing. If G-P was involved somehow, there is no direct evidence, but evidence of L-P’s involvement is quite readily apparent. As for Pacific-Lumber, Bari and Cherney later discovered a cordial “chummy” letter to FBI Director William Sessions from a Maxxam board member. [1] There is ample indirect evidence and a clear motive linking all three to the bombing.

Chapter 37 : Who Bombed Judi Bari?

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now Judi Bari is the mother of two children,
A pipe bomb went ripping through her womb,
She cries in pain at night time,
In her Willits cabin room;
FBI is back again with COINTELPRO,
Richard Held is the man they know they trust,
With Lieutenant Sims his henchman,
It’s a world of boom and bust;
But we’ll answer with non-violence,
For seeking justice is our plan,
And we’ll avenge our wounded comrade,
As we defend the ravaged land…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari, by Darryl Cherney, 1990.

Redwood Summer began and moved forward more or less as planned—in spite of all that happened surrounding the bombing—and Bari and Cherney were not charged and eventually freed. Yet organizers and supporters of Redwood Summer were left wondering who the bomber was, and if they were part of a well organized plot, either by right wing fanatics, Corporate Timber, the FBI, or a combination of all of them. Gary Ball admonished everyone not to jump to conclusions about who planted the bomb, stating, “We’re not getting into conspiracy theories at this point. We’re saying that the police have made an obvious mistake and that they need to do a real investigation to find the criminal who planted that bomb and who is still on the loose.” [1] Although many supporters of Redwood Summer were convinced that the bombing was a conspiracy, there were enough people in Mendocino County reactionary and crazy enough to have acted alone, and the county had a long tradition of such lunatics. As Rob Anderson described it:

“What outsiders (and many insiders, for that matter)—members of the media, politicians, FBI agents, etc.—don’t understand about Mendocino County is its peculiar hothouse political atmosphere—a combination of poor law enforcement, obtuse political leadership, cowboy capitalism, and religious extremism. In this atmosphere, all kinds of twisted and malignant creatures flourish. In fact, at various times, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Leonard Lake, Tree Frog Johnson, and Kenneth Parnell have all lived and flourished in Mendoland.” [2]

Judi Bari herself had agreed that “Mendocino County, as we all know, is known as the largest outpatient ward in America and we who live there are completely used to this stuff…” [3]

Indeed, one week after the bombing, an anonymous letter writer, calling himself (or herself) “The Lord’s Avenger” wrote a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat full of Biblical quotations claiming credit for planting the bomb. [4] On the surface, it was entirely plausible that the bombing was motivated by Christian Fundamentalist anger towards Judi Bari, because of her stances on abortion. It is unlikely, however, that this issue was the primary reason for the bombing—since Bari had been far more vocal about timber and labor issues. [5] There was a strong Christian Fundamentalist streak particularly among the most reactionary representatives of the US Forest Service as well as the least enlightened (and most rapacious) gyppos. [6] Misogyny was no doubt embedded in the bundle of reasons for targeting Bari as well, evidenced by the fact that one of her death threats described her (and her fellow women) as “whores”, “lesbians”, and “members of NOW”. [7] Yet, as will be demonstrated, the Lord’s Avenger letter was more than likely a false lead.

There was also some wild speculation that Darryl Cherney might have planted the bomb himself (unbeknownst to Bari) out of resentment because of their recent breakup as romantic couple, but this theory falls to pieces on the prima facie evidence alone. [8] According to the FBI’s own ballistics evidence, the bomb had a switch, timer, and motion sensor, which meant that it was designed to detonate while the car was in motion during a specific time. It is just as ridiculous to think that Cherney would have knowingly consented to ride in a car containing a live bomb, which he had supposedly armed and positioned, for the purposes of revenge as it is to think that Bari and Cherney would have done so for the purposes of terrorism. In any case, Cherney, who was not mechanically inclined, was not capable of constructing such a device. [9] As Bari related to Bruce Anderson:

“Darryl, first of all, has some of the least mechanical skills of anyone I’ve ever known. I once tried to hire him to hang sheet rock and found him to be unemployable, because he didn’t know how to hammer. And, secondly, whatever else I know about Darryl—Darryl and I have been broken up as a romantic couple for several months now but I love Darryl and Darryl loves me, and there is no question in my mind that Darryl would never, ever do such a thing.” [10]

Veterans of the environmental movement who also had prior involvement with organizations that had been subject to COINTELPRO and COINTELPRO-like infiltration suspected foul play. [11] Dave Foreman, who spoke from first-hand experience, was convinced that it was, and noted the similarities between the bombing of Bari and Cherney and his own legal entanglement over the Arizona 5 case. [12] Certainly, the FBI and corporate timber had several motives. These included:

“Providing police an excuse to search homes and offices associated with the environmental movement in Mendocino County and the Bay Area, removing two of the most high-profile organizers challenging corporate power in California, and contaminating the public image—not only of Redwood Summer, but also of (Forest Forever) and the environmental movement in general with the stigma of violence and lawlessness.” [13]

Four attorneys from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, Rodney Jones, David Nelson, Steven J. Antler, and Ron Sinoway, calling themselves Northern California Lawyers for an Unbiased Investigation accused the Oakland Police and FBI of incompetence and prejudice against Bari and Cherney. [14] They issued a white paper called “A Position Statement and Legal Evaluation of the Bari-Cherney Car Bombing, which exposed the countless weaknesses in the state’s case against the two. The statement made a convincing case that the bombing was, in fact, a sophisticated plan by the opponents of Redwood Summer to undermine it, perhaps with the complicity of law enforcement agencies. [15]

Chapter 36 : A Pipe Bomb Went Rippin’ Through Her Womb

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“I knew it was a bomb the second it exploded. I felt it rip through me with a force more powerful and terrible than anything I could imagine. It blew right through my car seat, shattering my pelvis, crushing my lower backbone, and leaving me instantly paralyzed. Slumped over in my seat, unable to move, I couldn’t feel my legs, but desperate pain filled my body. I didn’t know such pain existed. I could feel the life force draining from me, and I knew I was dying. I tried to think of my children’s faces to find a reason to stay alive, but the pain was too great, and I couldn’t picture them.”[1]

—Judi Bari’s recollection of the bombing, February 2, 1990.

“I heard a ‘crack’, and my head began to ring like a sitar…like ‘nnnnnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’, and the car came to a screeching halt. The first thought in my mind was, ‘Oh no, not again!’ because last August we had been rear-ended by a logging truck without ever seeing it coming, and here we are again, me and Judi in a car. But this time, my head was bleeding and I knew I had a seat belt on, and I couldn’t figure out how come my head was bleeding if I hadn’t hit the windshield. Then I heard somebody scream out. ‘It’s a bomb, there was a bomb!’ And then it all made sense; somebody had tried to kill us.”[2]

—Darryl Cherney’s account of the bombing, May 24, 1990.

At this point, Cherney looked over at Bari where, “she was slumped in her seat, screaming in pain, but as far as I could tell, her body was in one peace.”[3] Bari recalls only being able to make guttural sounds in an attempt to say “help” and vaguely recalls that Cherney kept repeating “I love you,” to her, and that she was going to live, in spite of what had happened.[4]

The blast distorted Bari’s white 1981 Sabaru GL car’s unibody frame, tore out its left side and sent debris and heavy blue-grey smoke flying into the air. It blew out some of the windows and left a trail of fragments on Park Boulevard.[5] The shattered, smoking car veered 100 feet down the road, clipping parked cars and light poles along the way, and hit another vehicle—a delivery truck driven by 40-year-old Ken Rich from Castro Valley—before coming to a stop against a curb in front of Oakland High School, where students were jogging as part of their physical education class.[6] Had the explosion occurred just forty minutes later, it might have injured the students crossing the road to patronize the local shops for lunch. The nearby public school’s officials would keep the students inside campus buildings for several hours until the blast area was declared safe.[7] Rich’s vehicle then hit a woman pedestrian who had a heart attack.[8] He had happened to have been driving the other way, and noticed the smoke billowing from Bari’s vehicle just before it hit his own.[9]

The explosion startled the workers and owners at nearby businesses. “It sounded like they dropped a bomb from a jet or something,” recalled the manager of a nearby Oil Changers, “the whole street just shook.”[10] One of the garage mechanics, who identified himself as “Charles”, added, “It sounded like a cherry bomb in a tin can. It was pretty loud. I kind of felt it in my body, and I was inside.”[11] Sokhi Dosanjli, the clerk at a local convenience store reported that the smoke was so thick that, “You couldn’t see anything for awhile”, including the nearby MacArthur Freeway.[12]

Shannon Mar was immediately aware that something had gone horribly wrong. Since she was leading the way, she did not immediately see the blast, but she quickly heard it and smelled the residue of explosives. She recalled, “The car shook, heat rushed through the windows, and I smelled sulfur. I looked in the rear-view mirror, and (all I could see was) smoke.” Bari’s car rolled past her own just before hitting Ken Rich’s vehicle and then hitting the curb. Marr immediately came to a stop, exited her car, and ran to Bari’s bombed-out vehicle (where Ken Rich was already standing) to determine the condition of her friends. Marr said, “Judi was stuck in her seat. She kept saying, ‘It hurts. It hurts. I can’t breathe.’ Darryl had a gash over one eye and it was gushing blood.”[13]

Meanwhile, Dave Kemnitzer had fallen slightly behind, but by now he had arrived near the intersection of MacArthur and Park Boulevards. He emerged from his vehicle screaming, “It’s the loggers! The loggers are trying to kill us!” At that moment, Ken Rich ran to Bari’s car and saw Cherney emerge. He recalled, “I’ve been in Vietnam and I’ve seen bombed out cars before. This one took a heavy hit. I’m amazed the people are still alive.”[14] Rich had been trained in first aid, but he described Bari’s car as “so mangled” that he felt it would be more effective, “to let the paramedics treat the victims.” He then recalled Marr running up to him, exclaiming, “They’re my friends!”[15]

Bob Vandemeer, the president of a San Rafael demolitions company, just happened to have been driving behind Bari on his way to an Oakland A’s baseball game.[16] The force of the explosion made him bounce up in the seat of his pickup truck. He then noticed, “a big blue cloud of smoke (which) smelled like gunpowder. (Then) things started falling from the air—parts of (Bari’s) car.”[17] After the explosion, he immediately summoned police from his mobile telephone.[18] He then approached the vehicle where Rich, Marr, and Kemnitzer were congregating. He, like Rich, reported, “(Bari) was unconscious, and sort of smashed up against the door on the driver’s side…As I approached, (Cherney) popped up, bleeding pretty bad all over. He started yelling, “Help! Get me out of here!”[19]

Chapter 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“A lot of social movements get called terrorism. It dehumanizes (them). People have tried working through the system for years. It didn’t work.”

—Alison Bowman, editor, City on a Hill [1]

“The vast majority of people in this world neither own nor believe in ‘private property’, not because they are communists, but because they know it is not possible to own the Earth. This applies to the animals, too, which overall are a hell of a lot smarter than most humans.”

—Darryl Cherney, May 22, 1990 [2]

Darryl Cherney returned from Arizona, refreshed and ready to resume organizing, but the situation in Humboldt and Mendocino County was as volatile as ever. The buildup to Redwood Summer was exceeding all the organizers’ expectations. It was clear to everyone that the North Coast was about to experience a civil war. Accusations of “polarization” and “violent rhetoric” were constantly leveled at the Earth First! and IWW activists preparing to organize Redwood Summer, and many of these came from both local and corporate media outlets. The picture they painted was one of a once peaceful and prosperous region of logging communities disrupted by environmental extremists bent on wreaking havoc on the struggling, hard working timber workers of the region. Such descriptions couldn’t have been more divorced from reality.

Judi Bari had made it clear from the get go that the Redwood Summer demonstrators would not engage in hostile confrontations with the loggers, even if their actions impacted them directly:

“Our very style (if you look into Wobbly history) was taken from the loggers. We’ve had, since I’ve been in Earth First, an unwritten code that the loggers should be treated as potential allies. And we should be totally respectful of them. We are the only environmental group that I know of that has established the kind of relations with the rank and file loggers that we have. We’ve spoken for their interests, we’ve met with them, we even have a union local (IWW Local #1) with them. We have all different levels of rank and file loggers working with us. At the Eminent Domain demonstrations we appeared in public with the loggers and mill workers. We are not going to be yelling at the loggers because we have respect for them as working people.” [3]

Between the months of March and April, the campaign had gone from being just Bari, Cherney, an increasingly reluctant Greg King, and about a dozen others to as many as 100 different organizers. Meetings routinely averaged 60 participants. Almost all of them were local residents and not “outside agitators.” [4]

If anything, it was the forces of reaction that engaged in the most polarization. Indeed, in just the short period while Darryl Cherney vacationed in Arizona, Glenn Simmons continued to editorialize similarly in the pages of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, denouncing the organizers of Redwood Summer, because (according to Simmons) they “didn’t believe in God” (specifically a Christian Fundamentalist incarnation of “God”). [5] The Mendocino County chapter of the “Associated California Loggers” (still one more employer organization) accused environmentalists of “terrorism” (but cited no specific acts as evidence). [6] L-P spent $100,000 to construct a barbed wire fence surrounding its Ukiah mill to “protect” its employees from Earth First! “terrorists”. [7] Georgia Pacific cancelled public tours of its facility in Fort Bragg, and threatened to restrict access to its lands also ostensibly for similar reasons. [8] Simpson Timber spokesman Ryan Hamilton accused Redwood Summer of “setting a somber tone (that) could become a frightening situation.” [9] A group of “pro-timber” Yellow Ribbon supporters held a demonstration in Fort Bragg denouncing Earth First!, Redwood Summer, and Forests Forever. [10] One local resident, in a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat even warned against covering Earth First! in the media, lest the “good people” of the North Coast would soon find bombs inside their cars! [11]

Indeed, after the incident in Santa Cruz, every act of vandalism, sabotage, or even accidents were blamed on Earth First! There was often no way to tell if any of these incidents were real or manufactured either. For example, in the first few days of May, a Humboldt County gyppo operator in Redway, Van Meter Logging, received an anonymous bomb threat from somebody claiming to be from Earth First!, but this was either a crazy nut (with no association to Earth First! whatsoever), a fabrication by Pam Van Meter herself, or worse still, a another attempt by somebody to monkeywrench the monkeywrenchers in a dangerous act of subterfuge. “(The anonymous bomb threat) was definitely not Earth First!. Earth First! does not engage in attacks against people or terrorism. I sincerely feel sorry for this woman, but we had nothing to do with it,” declared Judi Bari. Van Meter was unsatisfied with this response, and still blamed Earth First!, stating, “If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” which was akin to blaming the victims in Mississippi Summer for inciting the racist repression against them. As it turned out, no bomb ever surfaced, at least not in Redway. [12]

There were plenty of actual threats against Earth First! and its allies, however, and not just anonymous death threats any longer. For example, Humboldt County supervisor Anna Sparks declared, “I think you’re asking for trouble, because they’re (going to be) up here protesting the jobs of the loggers and taking away their livelihoods through their protests and taking away the constitutional rights of people. You can’t help but bring violence in!” [13] This was bad enough, but in Mendocino County Charles Stone, a right wing radio talk show host with ties to actual extremist organizations (to which crypto-fascist Jack Azevedo also belonged) was now using his daily program on KDAC in Fort Bragg to whip up hysteria against Judi Bari and Redwood Summer. Following the incident in Santa Cruz, he urged his regular listeners, who included many of the local gyppos, to pressure the Board of Supervisors to “order” the Redwood Summer to appear so that the “real, god fearing citizens” of the county could pin them down and force them to admit all of their nefarious, secret agendas (whatever those were). [14] Surprisingly, supervisor Liz Henry, of all people, agreed, and placed the matter of Redwood Summer on the agenda for the May 1 meeting. [15]

Supervisor Henry no doubt naïvely assumed that she could negotiate some sort of agreement whereby the demonstrations would not result “in serious injury or economic disruption”, but this failed to understand the true nature of the problem. As was the case in the original Mississippi Summer, appealing to the rule of law was impossible when the law was bought and paid for by the perpetrators of the injustice being challenged in the first place. It was at best foolhardy to ignore the fact that economic disruption had already been occurring (at the hands of the corporations) now for over a decade. Bari faced a Catch 22. She knew that little was to be gained by appearing at what was likely to be a star chamber of hostility, but to not appear would allow the charges against Redwood Summer to go unanswered, and Bari was determined not to back down in the face of prejudice this time. Knowing that she would be hopelessly outnumbered, she enlisted as many allies as she could muster.

Chapter 34 : We’ll Have an Earth Night Action

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now Earth Day 1990 was Dennis Hayes’ vision,
But instead of bringing us together it only caused division,
He said turn down your thermostat and recycle toilet paper,
And as long as they contribute don’t confront the corporate rapers.

—lyrics excerpted from Earth Night Action, by Darryl Cherney and Mike Roselle, 1990.

Amidst all of that was going on behind the Redwood Curtain, and the timber wars which were now raging nationally, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was fast approaching, and even that was full of controversy. The hullabaloo wasn’t over the hype building over the twentieth Earth Day, but rather the growing corporate and state influence over the planning of the events commemorating it. Instead of rallies, demonstrations, speeches, and teach-ins addressing the increasing threats to the environment, in particular by the increasingly destructive evolution of capitalism, the day was shaping up to be a collection of “innocuous ‘feel-good’ festivals” designed by the corporations to “put a shine on the tarnished images of this planet’s despoilers.” The very “earth-raping” corporations whose records were most deserving of criticism had their hands on the purse strings. Worse still, control over organizing the events had been placed in the hands of the local city and county governments. In municipalities and counties where resource extraction or land speculation funded the campaigns of local politicians, there would be every incentive to soften criticism of such activities. As Earth First!er Jeffrey St. Clair put it, “If your issue is growth, how cleanly can you articulate that when the very people you’re fighting are sitting on the planning committee?” The foxes were once again seizing control of the henhouse. In city after city, corporate influence was “green-washing” the event, and some of the worst offenders were the timber corporations clearcutting on California’s North Coast. [1]

Chapter 33 : The Ghosts of Mississippi Will be Watchin’

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now when the timber barons heard the news they geared up for the fight,
And we laughed away the death threats and we cried to sleep each night,
And the media walked right into our homes,
As if they really were one of our own.
Now Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney left this little racist town,
Drove down that Mississippi highway to the place they would bed down,
But in the mirror they could see the Sheriff’s light,
No, they never did make it home that night.

—lyrics excerpted from Ghosts of Mississippi, by Darryl Cherney, 2004 [1]

Now Judi Bari is an Earth First! organizer,
The California Redwoods are her home,
She called for Redwood Summer,
Where the owl and the black bear roam;
Charlie Hurwitz he runs Maxxam out of Houston,
Harry Merlo runs L-P from Portland town,
They’re the men they call ‘King Timber’,
They know how to cut you down;
And Shep Tucker spewed their hatred,
As Candy Boak laid out their scam,
John Campbell called for violence,
It was no secret what they planned…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari?, by Darryl Cherney, 1990 [2]

Judi Bari didn’t have time to be frightened. Even though the organizers of the coming season of protests shortened the name “Mississippi Summer of the California Redwoods” simply to “Redwood Summer,” the situation—she thought—was starting to more and more resemble the violent and threatening conditions of the original Mississippi Freedom Summer anyway.

While the Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference was in progress in Oregon, the representatives of font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"">Corporate Timber on California’s North Coast were in the process of polishing their image. Louisiana Pacific, Pacific Lumber, and Simpson through the auspices of yet another front group known as the “North Coast Forest Industry” (NCFI)—which had existed quietly for twelve years—created a series of advertisements promoting themselves as “good neighbors”, “economically beneficial to the local economies” of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, and “careful stewards” of the region’s forests. The campaign included radio spots and full page ads in the region’s local and corporate newspapers. The NCFI didn’t merely limit itself to representatives from the three corporations and the local gyppo firms, however. It opened up its membership to other local businesses, ostensibly because they depended upon the timber economy for their own viability, but more likely because the NCFI also functioned like the “good citizens’ leagues” of old ensuring loyalty to the dominant power. One such business owner speaking approvingly of the effort declared, “The only way that the timber industry makes the newspaper is if somebody is sitting in one of their trees or chained to the back of one of their logging trucks.” [3]

The NCFI campaign was ironic, given the fact that the north coast timber corporations had been producing such ads already for years, particularly in the Eureka Times-Standard, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Ukiah Daily Journal, and (naturally) the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance. In fact, the bias was so blatant, that even a few readers of the last publication had already been incensed enough to accuse the editor of “shameless corporate bootlicking”. [4] The effort nevertheless brought many local employers into the fold, and following the ads, the NCFI’s membership increased by 30 to 40 members from its original membership of barely one dozen. [5]

Two days after the NCFI announced its campaign, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s, Ukiah bureau chief and head timber reporter, Mike Geniella, wrote a fairly extensive and article about the Mississippi Summer of the California Redwoods, or “Redwood Summer” as it was now being called. One week previously, Bari, Cherney, and other North Coast Earth First!ers had made their presentation to the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) who had held a conference in Sacramento. The SEAC organizers had been so inspired that they agreed to include the Redwood Summer organizing call out in their newsletter. “They (sent it) to thousands of colleges in the United States”, commented Betty Ball. [6] Over the course of the next two weeks, the story made national press wires, and thousands of people suddenly began showing interest in what was happening behind the so-called “Redwood Curtain”. [7] The Timber Association of California, a supporter of the NCFI was not pleased. Speaking on their behalf, Kevin Eckery declared, “(it) trivializes the real sacrifices made in Mississippi as part of the Civil Rights movement. The situation (here) doesn’t hardly seem to be the same.” [8] He would soon be proven very wrong, and in a sense, he was wrong from the get-go. Candy Boak continued to call Judi Bari and let her adversary know that she was still being watched, which was an ominous—even threatening—gesture. This would only be the start of things to come. [9]

Chapter 32 : Now They Have These Public Hearings…

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now back in Sacramento town sits the Board of Forestry,
And they log their land, they work their ranches, and they teach in the universities,
And the nine who sit in judgment as they massacre the trees,
Are Russ and Rose, Small, Berridge and Barnes, Atkinson, Shannon, Walt and Yee…

—lyrics excerpted from the Board of Forestry Song, by Darryl Cherney, 1989 [1]

Now they have those public hearings where they ask our point of view,
Like what do ya think of this here thing on page 4,002,
And they're so easy to get to if you just know how to drive,
And you don't work and you've got no kids and your rich uncle just died…

—lyrics excerpted from the Ballad of BLM, by Darryl Cherney, 1986 [2]

As the “Timber Wars” heated up, it was not uncommon to see counterdemonstrators at Earth First! protests bearing signs which read, “Earth First! is the problem, not the solution.” At these same events counterdemonstrators were quick to bandy about several Corporate Timber talking points. Four widely held notions were parroted in particular: First, corporations were “good neighbors” that supported ecology and contributed to the community. Second, they asserted that harvesting old growth forest stands was beneficial to the environment because removing the older trees allowed quicker growing (not to mentioned, managed) younger trees to flourish thus removing more CO­­2­ from the atmosphere. Third, they claimed that California had the most stringent forestry laws in existence, namely the Z’berg-Nejedly Forest Practices Act and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and these were already restrictive enough to make logging almost unprofitable. Lastly, government agencies had been hijacked by radical environmentalists, and for this reason the proposed listing of the spotted owl as threatened was merely an attempt to appease an out of control, overly vocal but tiny minority. However, in February and March of 1990, a series of unrelated events debunked all three such claims thoroughly.

Chapter 31 : Spike a Tree for Jesus

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

In spite of all of the Corporate Media’s claims that both Redwood Summer and Forests Forever could potentially polarize timber dependent communities into opposing “green” and “yellow” camps, and despite all of the efforts by Corporate Timber to manifest those divisions, Earth First! – IWW Local #1 continued to slowly gain support and influence among rank and file timber workers on the North Coast. As a result, Judi Bari was invited to participate in a “Labor and the Environment” workshop, called “Bridging the Gap” at the Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference in early March in Eugene, Oregon. [1] Several Earth First!ers from the Pacific Northwest were invited to participate and did, including Karen Wood from various Oregon Earth First! chapters; George Draffan, Mitch Friedman, and Mike Jakubal from various Washington Earth First! groups; as well members of the Save Opal Creek, the Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN), and Jeff Debonis of Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (AFSEEE). Oddly, however, no rank and file timber workers received invitations. [2]

The Labor and Environment Panel consisted of Judi Bari, a university professor whose area of study was physics, and “the owner of a company who (made) fancy yuppie houses out of old growth wood and doesn’t want the old growth eliminated.” Bari felt that the panel wasn’t representative enough, so she gave the organizers the name of a certain rank and file mill worker from Roseburg, Oregon, with whom she had happened to have been corresponding. Gene Lawhorn had recently been speaking publically for the preservation of the Spotted Owl, against the yellow ribbon campaign, and in defense of union timber workers, and Bari intended to cede some of her time to him, because the organizers had not thought to include any actual timber workers on the panel, and they had refused to let Lawhorn be on the panel. [3]

A week before the conference it seemed as if the AFL-CIO intended to keep both Bari and Lawhorn off of the panel. Bari received a phone call from Paul Moorhead of the Western Council of Industrial Workers (WCIW) who identified himself by name, and said, nastily, “You better not think that you can come to Oregon because you won’t find a welcome…If any member of my union talks to you, they’ll be out of a job.” [4] Moorhead also contacted the conference organizers and the University of Oregon and told them that Bari was an inappropriate speaker for the panel. [5] He had no real grounds to complain, however, because the WCIW no longer represented any workers in Mendocino County, as its last bargaining unit had been eliminated in 1986. In response to his threats, Bari notified the press and conference organizers. She also contacted the WCIW and requested that they openly debate the issue with Bari (and Lawhorn) at the conference. The conference organizers agreed to the debate, but the WCIW declined the invitation. [6]

Gene Lawhorn would get his chance to speak. There was just one small problem, however. In between the time that Bari had extended the invitation to Lawhorn (who accepted) and the conference, an IWW member in Oregon gave the latter a copy of Darryl Cherney’s album, They Sure Don’t Make Hippies Like They Used To, which has four songs on it that include references to tree spiking, all of which are favorable to the tactic. In spite of the fact that Cherney had declared two years earlier that he “would never spike a tree (himself)” [7], at the same time he had written “pro spiking” songs, including Earth First! Maid (set to the tune of Union Maid), They Sure Don’t Make Hippies the Way They Used To, Ballad of the Lonesome Tree Spiker (coauthored with Mike Roselle), and Spike a Tree for Jesus. [8]

Chapter 30 : She Called for Redwood Summer

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now Judi Bari is a feminist organizer,
Ain’t no man gonna keep that woman down,
She defended the abortion clinic,
In fascist Ukiah town;

Calvary Baptist Church called for its masses,
Camo-buddies lined up in the pews,
You can see all of their faces,
In the Ukiah Daily News;

And they spewed out their hatred,
As Reverend Boyles laid out their scam,
Bill Staley called for violence,
It was no secret what they planned…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari?, by Darryl Cherney, 1990

“Our managers know they have to perform. I like to say they have one testicle on deposit.”

—T Marshall Hahn, from Glacial Erratic, Winter, 1990

The timber wars were escalating on the North Coast and far beyond as well. Echoing Maxxam’s takeover of P-L, in early 1990, Georgia-Pacific seized Great Northern Nekoosa (GNN) in a hostile takeover making G-P the largest forest products corporation in the world at the time, with annual sales in excess of $14 billion, and the largest owner of timber acreage in the United States. G-P had also been charged with at least 114 violations of water quality laws, most of them concentrated in the years leading up to its takeover of GNN. The company was responsible for five major spills into the St Croix River in 1989 alone. The director of water pollution enforcement efforts for Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection had said that the company had violated “just about every provision of its license at one time or another.” G-P also imported over 150,000 tons of finished hardwoods from the endangered tropical rainforests. The company’s labor practices were equally atrocious. In response, Earth First! and the Rainforest Action Network organized a nationwide boycott of G-P, following the pattern of a similar, successful boycott of Scott Paper Company in the Fall of 1989. [1] To service the debt from their takeover, they too would likely accelerate their harvests throughout their holdings. If Corporate Timber had hoped to quell dissent, they were sabotaging their own efforts due to their own hubris.

Meanwhile, in Humboldt County, Pacific Lumber was attempting, once again, to log in Headwaters Forest, and as before, they encountered yet another roadblock the week of January 7, 1990. The company had filed two THPs, 1-89-762 and 793 that proposed logging 564 acres in the dead center of the contested grove. [2] A report filed by Ken Moore, the assistant biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game office in Eureka, determined that there was insufficient data regarding the potential cumulative impact of potentially imperiled wildlife, including the marbled murrelet, in the proposed THPs. As a result, the CDF official responsible for determining the fate of the THPs in Santa Rosa, Len Theiss, instructed the company to file a written response by January 18, including any steps they planned to take to protect the affected wildlife or minimize the impact of logging on it. [3]

This was unprecedented, and having already faced several years of lawsuits and even a few rejected THPs, Pacific Lumber management, particularly John Campbell and Robert Stephens were quick to accuse the CDF of being politically motivated, and accused the DF&G of aiding radical environmentalists in an attempt at a “land grab” of Headwaters. “It certainly appears to us that Fish and Game is abusing their regulatory processes in order to appease Earth First! and their supporters,” declared John Campbell. “Part of this package was a request for additional wildlife studies to be designed by a biologist in my employ. They requested these surveys knowing full well they would require up to a year to complete,” added Robert Stephens in a letter to the CDF. [4]

Theiss, who—like Partain, was no Earth First!er—didn’t take too kindly to being green-baited and steadfastly insisted that he was merely doing his job. He argued that the recommendation from Fish and Game were an unexpected, “shot out of the dark,” that caught him and Joe Fassler, the chairman of the review team, by surprise. [5] However, he also declared, “My job is to chose the least damaging of any feasible alternatives, and that’s what I intend to do.” He even recommended to P-L, that in lieu of costly wildlife surveys of Headwaters Forest, they could instead harvest old growth trees from smaller, isolated stands, return to its pre-Maxxam harvest rates, or stop selling logs on the open market and instead mill them in Scotia. Theiss even reminded P-L that if he accepted the recommendations by the DF&G, the company could always appeal to the State Board of Forestry in Sacramento, which was politically quite favorable to Corporate Timber. [6] Instead, Pacific Lumber requested, and was granted, a two-week extension, at Theiss’s suggestion, to respond to DF&G’s recommendations. [7]

There were few who would dispute that the fight over Headwaters Forest was the most important, but by no means the only battle in the timber wars, and that its fate would ultimately determine the future of logging throughout the entire Pacific Northwest. Pacific Lumber denied this, of course. Robert Stephens opined that on a scale of one to ten, Headwaters rated a “four” in terms of old growth redwoods, neglecting to clarify if that was measured in biological diversity or dollar signs. Considering that the 288 acres Headwaters in the contested THPs could produce up to $38.5 million in lumber and $1 million in timber tax yield, Stephens likely meant the latter. Greg King, on the other hand countered that the contested groves were among the world’s most important biological remains, and Robert Sutherland concurred, stating, “To say that Headwaters is not one of the very best stands is also misleading.” A coalition of Congressional Representatives, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wilderness Society, and Save the Redwoods League seemed to agree and joined EPIC and Earth First! in organizing to oppose its cutting. [8]

Of course, a bigger battle centered around the three proposed environmental initiatives, Big Green, Forests Forever, and the Timber Bond Act. “No matter where people live, they consider the redwood forests their own and they’re not going to stand for more logging of the last trees,” declared Betty Ball. Indeed, the sense was among many on all sides of the struggle that at least Forests Forever had a good chance of winning, and that alone was enough to prompt the Timber Association of California, the chief state lobbying group for Corporate Timber, to follow John Campbell’s suggestion and draft its own counter-initiative to undermine it. [9] That proposition would, if passed, not only counteract Forests Forever should the former receive more votes, it would loosen up the already lax enforcement existing under the status quo even further. As a result, California Attorney General Van de Kamp, a chief sponsor of a much more sweeping ballot initiative that was supported by many of the same interests as Forests Forever, Big Green, began referring to the TAC initiative as “Big Stump”. All of this was intensified by the momentum building behind William Bertain’s latest lawsuit against Maxxam. 100 former shareholders and several businesses including the San Francisco chapter of the Red Cross, Washington Mutual Savings Bank, Food Mart Eureka, and the Samuel Merritt Hospital Retirement Fund had signed on. [10]

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