Against the Odds: Conversation With Darryl Cherney, Earth First! Activist And Producer Of “WHO BOMBED JUDI BARI?”

by Margot Pepper
First published by Canada's The Scoop, April 2012 and the Free Venice Beachhead, April 2012

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Before global warming permeated contemporary consciousness, Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney popularized protests against clear-cutting in the 1980's. On May 24th, 1990 in Oakland, California, a bomb exploded in Judi Bari’s car and the former union organizer suffered debilitating injuries alongside Cherney. "Who Bombed Judi Bari?," a new compelling and poetic documentary film directed by Mary Liz Thomson and produced by Cherney, explores attempts by the FBI and Oakland Police to accuse Bari of planting the bomb herself and the subsequent lawsuit against the agencies that attempted to silence both environmentalists. The film, which plays out like a Hollywood drama, offers a surprising and uplifting resolution: in 2002, a federal jury found that 3 FBI agents and 3 Oakland officers were guilty of violating Bari and Cherney's civil rights and ordered the law enforcement agencies to pay $4.4 million. Yet, like the killing of J.F.K, the film reveals an unsolved mystery: who then, is the actual bomber of Judi Bari? In 2011, their legal team secured a stop order preventing the FBI from destroying evidence that could contain the bomber's DNA and ordered it turned over to an independent lab for testing. The FBI is appealing the order. The following interview with Cherney offers his thoughts as to the bomber’s identity, as well as insights about perseverance against impossible odds, lessons for today’s Occupy movement.

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