On May 24th, 1990 a motion-activated bomb exploded in Judi Bari’s car as she and Darryl Cherney were driving in Oakland, CA. Both were Earth First! (EF!) activists working to halt logging of California’s old growth redwoods and key organizers of ‘Redwood Summer,’ a campaign modeled on the civil rights movement’s ‘Mississippi Summer’ of decades earlier. Within minutes, the FBI terrorism squad was on the scene. Three hours later, while unconscious in the hospital, Judi was arrested for bombing herself; twelve hours later Darryl was also arrested. These charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence and law enforcement authorities never pursued any other suspects.
It took years for Judi and Darryl to (successfully) sue the FBI and Oakland Police for civil rights violations. During the proceedings, they uncovered a massive amount of evidence that the FBI, despite assurances to the contrary, had been spying on EF! for years under COINTELPRO, a counter-intelligence program the FBI launched in the 1950s.
This podcast is built on a radio broadcast special from the year 2000, and begins a multi-episode look at the circumstances surrounding this (still unsolved) assassination attempt. It features lots of tape of Judi Bari, who died in 1997 from cancer. She details the origins of the FBI’s long history of watching EF!, the launch of associated COINTELPRO ops and how they use local authorities to skirt rules prohibiting tracking legal political activities. There’s also a lengthy interview with Darryl Cherney from the month before the original live broadcast.