“Starting from the very reasonable, but unfortunately, revolutionary concept that social practices which threaten the continuation of life on Earth must be changed, we need a theory of revolutionary ecology that will encompass social and biological issues, class struggle, and a recognition of the role of global corporate capitalism in the oppression of peoples and the destruction of nature.
I believe we already have such a theory. It’s called deep ecology, and it is the core belief of the radical environmental movement.
A revolutionary ecology movement must also organize among poor and working people. With the exception of the toxics movement and the native land rights movement most U.S. environmentalists are white and privileged. A revolutionary ideology in the hands of privileged people can indeed bring about some disruption and change in the system. But a revolutionary ideology in the hands of working people can bring that system to a halt. For it is the working people who have their hands on the machinery. And only by stopping the machinery of destruction can we ever hope to stop this madness.
So let’s keep blocking those bulldozers and hugging those trees. And let’s focus our campaigns on the global corporations that are really at fault. But we have to begin placing our actions in a larger context – the context of revolutionary ecology”.
These are the words of Judi Bari. Spoken many years ago, but the analysis rings so true, and so pertinent, today. Her perspective and analysis shed light on why she was considered dangerous to the corporate status quo and targeted.
The 30th anniversary of the bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney is upon us, on May 24, 2020. Usually, Judi’s comrades in the Bay Area commemorate that event every year by going to the place where the bomb exploded under Judi’s car seat as she drove through Oakland, to mark the moment, as well as bringing people together for discussions of radical activism and solidarity. This year will be different in the time of the pandemic. But the date will be marked, nonetheless, as a memory against forgetting.
The capsule history: On May 24, 1990, a pipe bomb planted in the car of Earth First! activist Judi Bari exploded, sending her and fellow activist Darryl Cherney to the hospital in Oakland—Judi with life-threatening injuries since the bomb had been hidden directly under her driver’s seat. Judi and Darryl were on their way to a roadshow event, organizing for Earth First! Redwood Summer. That explosion, and the subsequent attack on Earth First! as well as Judi and Darryl, by the FBI and Oakland police would forever change the face of forest activism in the redwoods and elsewhere.
The bomber was never found, partly because the FBI never conducted a serious investigation, choosing instead to blame and harass Earth First! activists, attempting to frame Bari and Cherney for bombing themselves. A lawsuit filed by Judi and Darryl against the FBI and OPD for violation of Constitutional rights was ultimately successful in 2002, vindicating Darryl and Judi, but coming five years after Judi’s untimely death from breast cancer at the age of 47.
Redwood Summer was a mass mobilization of students and others who came from across the U.S. to protest the deforestation of the redwood region in Northern California, being decimated by the corporate chain saw. It was modeled after civil rights mobilizations in the south in the 1960s. The summer of civil disobedience and protest in the forests did proceed, in spite of the monumental disruption caused by the bombing, attempts to frame and tear apart EF!, and changed the face of direct action organizing at the time. (above: photo credit: Evan Johnson)
There was a planned exhibit dedicated to Judi at the Mendocino County Museum that would put the bombed car and other artifacts of the time on display, to have opened May 1. The pandemic has postponed all of that, but we include some links here to explore, including the feature-length film, “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” on YouTube. It tells the story of the bombing, Redwood Summer, Earth First! and much more. Highly recommended.
Comrade of Judi’s, Orin Langelle’s post on his photography site that includes a 1991 interview with Judi and two activist accounts.
Judi’s essay “Revolutionary Ecology,” where she discusses biocentrism in the context of radical social change thinking (e.g., Biocentrism Contradicts Capitalism, Biocentrism Contradicts Communism, and Biocentrism Contradicts Patriarchy), can be found in its entirety at the link www.judibari.org/revolutionary-ecology.html.
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- 31st anniversary of the bombing of Judi Bari & Darryl Cherney: Monday, May 24 JOIN US!
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