Who Bombed Judi Bari?
Director / Editor - Mary Liz Thomson
A news anchor reports while graphic news coverage of a terrorist car bomb attack in 1990 in Oakland, CA is shown. Two Earth First! activists are immediately blamed by the FBI for bombing themselves. We learn that the victim/suspects Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney have later sued the FBI and Oakland Police and that Judi Bari is now dying of cancer before her case goes to trial. Weak though defiant, she gives her deposition, on camera, just a month before she dies.
This action-packed journey unfolds in the order Judi testified, questioned by civil rights attorney Dennis Cunningham. The archival footage brings the story to life, driven by music from the Earth First! movement. Judi Bari, an eloquent, brash orator with a union background, grows into a powerful environmental leader. Story threads and character arcs intertwine: the lawsuit against the FBI, the complex history of Earth First!, the loggers, the controversy of tree spiking, the political/romantic partnership of Judi and Darryl, and the fate of the ancient redwoods.
Early 1980's Earth First! footage conveys the thinking of the founders, such as Dave Foreman and writer Edward Abbey. Deep ecology and civil disobedience are depicted in action. As Judi scores victories, tensions grow into violence. As Judi and Darryl successfully organize for the Cahto Wilderness, Headwaters Forest, and Redwood Summer which bring thousands to the area, they experience the chilling fear of death threats and ultimately the government's convoluted reasoning to accuse them of the crimes committed against them.
When a letter describing the bomb components takes credit for the attack, the FBI accuses Judi's relatives of typing the letter, searching her house, pulling nails from the window trim to see if they matched nails strapped to the bomb. Judi describes this invasion emotionally and how it affected her children. The evidence clearly proved that the bomb was hidden beneath her seat, while the FBI claimed that it should have been visible.
Judi's testimony that she had to give up her forest activism due to cancer segues into her greatest speech before 5,000 people, including Bonnie Raitt (who sings). It culminates with the largest civil disobedience in U.S. history --1033 people arrested in support of Headwaters Forest.
The deposition ends with the stunning revelation that neither the FBI nor the Oakland attorney has a single question. Her touching reaction is that she "gets to go home," rather than face more days of questioning.
The film transitions to the news on the day that Judi's deposition was given to the jury in 2002. Lawyers at the courthouse, a radio interview with a jury member, and the exuberance of the day the $4.4 million verdict comes in builds to a powerful conclusion