Darryl Cherney, here, passing on an editorial from our local Santa Rosa
paper that has been echoed in similar editorials around the area. Our
victory in the appeals court is firm and good things are to come. Viva
The Press Democrat
Santa Rosa, California,
Wednesday, September 29, 1999; Empire News, Page B-1
BARI BOMB CASE TAINTED BY LIES
by CHRIS COURSEY, Press Democrat columnist
We may never know the truth about who bombed anti-logging activists Judi
Bari and Darryl Cherney as they drove through Oakland on a May morning in
1990. But we found out a lot about the lies last week.
The justices of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco didn't actually
use the word "lies" in ruling that Oakland police won't be let off the hook
for their investigation of the bombing. No, the justices have better
manners than that. Instead, their 25-page opinion says "false and reckless
statements," "inaccurate information" and "misrepresentations" tainted the
Oakland Police Department's handling of the case.
But I don't have such nice manners. When I read the court's ruling, I came
to this blunt conclusion: The cops lied.
They lied to me and to the rest of the media. We passed those lies on to you.
Bari and Cherney were arrested shortly after the bomb exploded in Bari's
car. Police and FBI agents contended that the two Earth First radicals were
"terrorists," carrying the bomb as part of their "Redwood Summer" campaign
against the North Coast's corporate loggers.
To support that contention, police said the bomb was easily visible on the
back floorboard of Bari's Subaru, and that nails used as shrapnel in the
bomb matched a bag of nails found In Bari's car and, later, nails found in
Bari's Mendocino County home.
Damning evidence, to be sure. It likely convinced plenty of observers that
that the two scruffy activists probably got what they deserved.
But it wasn't true.
* * *
Bari, who was permanently disabled by the blast and died in I997 of breast
cancer, and Cherney vigorously denied knowledge of the bomb. They accused
the FBI and Oakland police of bungling the bombing investigation by
focusing their probe solely on the victims. When no charges were filed, the
pair sued. They allege among other things - that the bureau and the police
violated their First Amendment rights by conspiring to squelch their
Tensions in timber country were high that year, with environmental
activists and loggers squaring off in the forests and on the streets of
several North Coast towns. Oakland police felt the heat as Bari, from her
hospital bed, and Cherney, with a bullhorn, organized repeated
demonstrations calling for a "full and fair" probe of the crime.
The police responded with announcements and leaks to improve perceptions of
their investigation: The nails on the bomb carried the same fabrication
"fingerprint" as those in a bag in Bari's car and home, all of which came
from a batch of between 200 and 1,000 nails. The bomb was not hidden in the
car; Bari and Cherney had to have seen it when they loaded the vehicle.
But the justices wrote last week that "it would be obvious to any objective
observer'' that the nails in the bomb were not similar to the others in
Bari's car, one set had flat heads, the other round heads. Nails are made
in batches of millions, not less than 1,000 (the FBI "expert" to whom
police attributed that statement denied ever saying it). Damage to the car
showed that the bomb was directly under Bari's driver's seat, and further
evidence indicated it was hidden under a towel.
Oakland police had asked the court to dismiss them from the activists'
suit, but the justices declined. The police, the court said, had made
"false and reckless statements about the location of the bomb" and "false
and reckless statements tying nails possessed by Bari to the bomb."
Further, the activists' lawyers have produced "sufficient evidence that FBI
agents had intended to inhibit" Bari and Cherney's political activities,
and "sufficient circumstantial evidence" that FBI agents and Oakland police
officers "entered into a conspiracy to further this goal."
The ruling is not a conviction of Oakland cops or the FBI. It merely says
that there's enough evidence of official wrongdoing to allow the case to go
before a jury.
In other words, we're not to the truth yet. But we're getting closer.
Call Coursey at (707) 521-5223 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
© The Press Democrat
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