Albion Monitor /Commentary


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Judi Bari

I just read Nicholas Wilson's piece on Judi Bari. Thank you for publishing such a wonderul article. I hope it is syndicated and becomes the official obituary piece around the world.

Carolyn Gage, California

Thank you for informing us of the passing of Judy Bari. It is a great loss for the environmental movement world-wide. While being an activist may be dangerous at times, doing "nothing" to alleviate unsustainability and the impact of human activities on the Earth is even more dangerous. God Bless her, and our condolences to her family, friends, and collegues.

Anne Marie Sleeman, British Columbia Environmental Network

Many thanks for the beautiful story about Judi Bari. I had the privilege of working with her several times during my decade in Sonoma County and I always found her to be eloquent, humane, and ferociously aware of the subtleties that escaped many folks in the Redwoods conservation movement.

A couple of years ago we lost Ed Abbey and now Judy Bari. It's beyond sad. But Judi's example towers like the Redwoods she fought so hard to save. She truly was, as Ed Abbey called it, "a voice for the voiceless." Now we must try to commit ourselves to the work that is ahead of us to bring into full flower the world she envisioned -- a world in which there is self determination for all beings.

And thanks for putting out the kind of journalism that keeps the rest of us aware of inspiring leaders like Judi, and of the issues that matter most.

Terril L. Shorb, Arizona

Activist, mother, singer-songwriter, labor leader, old growth defender and organizer, FBI plaintiff, EarthFirst!er, victim of an uninvestigated bombing, fiddle player, tree-spiking opponent, anti-corporate warrior Judi Bari succumbed to cancer shortly at 6:45am PST Sunday, a little more than two weeks after the FBI's attorney accused her of faking cancer.

William Jefferson Clinton, Janet Reno, Governor Pete Wilson, Maxxam CEO Charles Hurwitz, the City of Oakland CA Police and City Council, The FBI, especially Agent Held, and the mainstream pack-rat journalists who participated in the FBI's slur and slander following the May 24, 1990 bombing of Judi Bari, have her civic blood on their hands.

Her death brings to a focus many of hte problems we confront today: the destruction of the environment by greedy corporate myopiates; the failure of State and Federal regulating agencies to do their jobs; the raiding of employee pension funds by takeover artists; the participation by law enforcement agencies on all levels--state, local and federal--in criminal activity, especially bombing and incarcerating citizen activists, like Judi, Mumia, Leonard and Geronimo; the selling of the government to the highest bidder; the ignorance of the media and its willing suspension of ethics in favor of promoting the governmental and corporate lie; the rewarding of S&L raiders; the infiltration of citizen action groups by the American intelligence assets; the demeaning of women's role in activating the citizenry; the damning social engineering of labor and commerce and peace and justice workers by nasty government agents; and the lying portrayal of pacifists like Judi and the thousands of everyday citizens who have been arrested while working to stop the destruction of the planet as ecoterrorists.

All of these came together in Judi's life and she confronted them with passion, clarity and music. She often quoted Joe Hill: "Don't mourn. Organize."

A participatory memorial party, as per her wish, will be held at the Willits CA Grange Hall at 291 School Street from 1-9:30pm on Sunday, March 9.

Dan Scanlan, California

Thanks for the Judi Bari article. I've been weepy for days; cleansing tears like mist in the redwoods...

Madeleine Cole, California

I reached the Judi Bari page through the KZYX program guide, and I want to thank you for publishing the updates on her health and court case against the FBI. I couldn't BELIEVE that Sher said she was "faking" cancer! He must have icewater in his veins! Judi will be so missed -- the most amazing fighter for the environment.

Jan Wax, California

Thank you for updating us on Judi Bari's courageous struggle. I can think of few stories that need to be told as badly as this one.

Anthony Murawski, Virginia

Thank you for this. [Nicholas Wilson writes] as though he loved the person as well as the icon. I only knew her work at a distance. She must have been incredible.... I'm glad she was here.

Ariel Harper, Nova Scotia

I have for years known of Bari as an early defender of the great Redwood Forest. When I came to California In January, to focus on saving the Headwaters Redwod Forest in a religious ceremonial meal held on the traditional Jewish "New Year of the Trees," I had hoped to meet Bari. She had told the Redwood Rabbis who organized the ceremony that she hoped to take part, but her metastatisized cancer had already weakened her far too much.

The other aspect of the article that interested me was its report of Bari's belief that the FBI tried to frame her for bombing her own car. For some people, that aspect of the article may have seemed stunning; for others, obvious. My sense is that most people of the '40s and '50s generations can hardly believe the FBI has ever done wrong; for many of the generation of the '60s and '70s, it seems obvious information; for those of the '80s and '90s, it may seem odd or ludicrous.

I bridge two of those generations. I was born in 1933. I grew up respecting the FBI. I became an historian, and wrote a book on a series of race riots in the summer of 1919. By doing research in the National Archives, I learned that what was then the "General Investigation Division of the Bureau of Investigation," headed by J Edgar Hoover, was convinced that the riots had been organized by Bolsheviks -- that is, by revolutionary Communists. I found absolutely no evidence that this had even a smidgin of truth to it.

In the mid-1970s I joined with eight other Washingtonians who sued the FBI in Federal court for unconstitutional active harrassment of and interference with (not just passive illegal surveillance of) our work to organize the anti-war movement, thus depriving us of our rights of free assembly under the First Amendment. We uncovered tons of evidence. The federal jury, with the judge's approval, found for us and awarded us damages. After years of FBI appeals, our victory was affirmed and we were paid damages. (Caroline Kennedy's book on the Bill of Rights, "In Our Defense" includes a detailed history of that case, including interviews with some of us.)

So the point is, I have no trouble in all, both out of my historical research concerning 1919 and my personal experience in the '60s and '70s, in believing that the FBI may have -- not "did" for sure but certainly may have -- manufactured evidence against Judi Bari.

I'm taking the trouble to send all this because I think we should take seriously that our work matters -- matters enough that sometimes it brings enraged responses by some of those who have power in the world we are trying to change. It also matters enough -- sometimes -- that it changes people and changes society.

I am NOT suggesting that we walk around in a constant state of fear and suspicion; I don't. I simply do what I think needs doing, with as much gentleness and good sense as I can muster, and ALSO know that sometimes the result of this is that people and society change, and sometimes the result is that someone gets nasty, and often the result is that both happen.

One of the things I learn from all this is that perhaps the most decent AND the most powerful form of social change is simply acting in the present to create a miniature of the future we are seeking. Integrated sit-ins today integrated restaurants tomorrow. Planting redwood seedlings today replanting the great Redwood Forest tomorrow.

Then we can know we are deeply in tune with our own deepest values, have not betrayed God, ourselves, or each other, and have taken one little step in the good path, no matter what happens after.

From what I know of her, Judi Bari seems to have walked this path. May the rest of her life be filled with the joy of knowing she has taught others to walk it as well.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Washington

Albion Monitor Issue 26 (

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