Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tues. Aug 30th, in Houston, screening of The Forest for the Trees & Viva Judi Bari (Houston Indymedia)

RW e-mails to note HIMC and DSEF's "HIMC and DSEF Film Screening" (Houston Indymedia):

On Tuesday, August 30th, Houston Independent Media Center and Dirty South Earth First! will screen the newly released film, The Forest for the Trees. With a special screening of the short film Viva Judi Bari.

The Forest for the Trees (1) focuses on the life of Judi Bari (2) and the legal struggle that ended in the one of the biggest victories against the FBI for the their violations of civil rights and due process against a well known activist.

In this day and age of the PATRIOT ACT and the association of terrorism with dissent, the legal struggle reaches beyond the labor movement and the environmental movement but is centered around the very heart of all social justice movements that come under scrutiny by the powers that be.

It is a landmark case and one of few victories over the FBI that the entire social justice movement has to celebrate.

Judi Bari's entry into activism and politics started with her role as a labor organizer in the carpenter's union. As a carpenter, Bari became increasingly aware of the devastation wrought on ancient redwood forests in Northern California at the hands of the Houston based Maxxam Corporation and its subsidiary Pacific Lumber. Bari launched into action in the late 1980s and became a prominent figure in the Earth First! (3) movement, encouraging forest defenders to abandon tree-spiking which could harm loggers or millworkers and focus on the corporate executives who made the decisions that harmed both the forests and the workers. By showing the common causes shared by both labor and environment, Bari helped foster a sense of solidarity not previously shared by the two movements. For her work, Bari received numerous death threats and in 1990 her car was bombed with her and fellow Earth First! activist, Darryl Cherney in it. Police and FBI were on the scene within minutes and almost instantly declared that Bari had been transporting the bomb and that it accidentally exploded. Bari was arrested and put in handcuffs while recovering in ICU. The authorities were never able to build a case against Bari and all physical evidence pointed to an assassination attempt including where the bomb was detonated.

The damage was done however, and one of the most prominent voices in the environmental movement was labeled a terrorist by the national media. Cherney and Bari subsequently sued the FBI and City of Oakland, lining up a "Dream Team" of activist attorneys that had represented the Black Panthers, Fred Hampton's family and many other activists since the 1960s. The case dragged on for over a decade, a time during which Bari who was crippled by the bombing was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 1997 (4) and those left behind continued their legal battle against the FBI.

In 2002, justice was finally served and Judi Bari's family and Darryl Cherney won a 4.4 million dollar verdict against the FBI. Come and watch this inspiring film about a woman who helped change the face of activism, was violently targeted for her dedication and ultimately won a legal battle no one thought could be won.

The e-mail address for this site is