Friends of Judi Bari

Reprinted from:
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, February 4, 2005  
Page E - 6 


In defense of activist Judi Bari


Readers of the Jan. 18 Datebook find the Slice feature with a photo captioned: "Judi Bari, who was severely injured in a car-bombing, denied having planned to plant the bomb and use it herself." It's as though the 2002 civil jury verdict exonerating Bari never happened, and the FBI's false charges against her were still open to question.

Nowhere in her book did Kate Coleman reveal that FBI Special Agent Walter R. Hemje testified during the 2002 trial that the FBI never found any physical evidence whatsoever tying Bari, Darryl Cherney or Earth First to the bomb. Yet the headline at the top of page on D4 says: "FBI assumed Earth First was to blame." The jury verdict discredited the FBI, but Coleman defends the FBI.

The excerpt reveals Coleman's fatal bias against Bari, who died of cancer in 1997. Coleman suggests the FBI was merely mistaken when it falsely arrested Bari and Cherney for the 1990 bombing, then conducted a two-month media smear campaign against them and Earth First. She excuses the FBI's false claims about nails in Bari's carpentry tool kit matching nails duct-taped to the bomb, saying, "It was a hurry-up kind of assessment," rather than a deliberate lie in support of a politically motivated frame-up, as the jury found.

Coleman never tells her readers that police are immune from being sued for mistakes. To overcome that immunity and award a record $4.4 million in damages the jury had to find they acted intentionally and with malice.

Coleman is loose with facts. She wrote: "The car seat, damaged by the Jaws of Life which released Bari from the wreckage, was removed, thus muddying the issue of the bomb's placement." That's false, and it's just one of a list of 335 factual errors in the book posted on

The seat was not damaged by the Jaws of Life, and the jury saw a hole blown through the seat bottom, with the backrest relatively undamaged. The jury found that the physical evidence plainly visible at the scene made it obvious to the FBI and police that the bomb was under the seat and intended to kill Bari. But there was a frame-up going on, and Coleman's book is an attempt to rewrite history and revive the FBI's discredited smear of Bari and Earth First.

The Chronicle was sent our press release on Jan. 6, openly challenging Coleman's book as a paid-for right-wing hit-piece targeting a hero of the forest defense movement. Don't you owe it to your readers to let them know of our challenge and where to learn more about it online?

Coordinator, Friends of Judi Bari