After decades of harassing, framing, imprisoning, or eliminating
anyone seen as a threat to the American status quo of big business,
big brother, and big shopping malls, the FBI is finally getting
a taste of long-overdue justice. In a landmark ruling reached on
Tuesday (11th), a US jury found three FBI agents and three police
officers guilty of violating the rights of Earth First! activists
Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.
This tale of FBI lies and repression began on May 24th 1990, when
Judi Bari, a Californian environmental activist, was nearly killed
by a motion-triggered pipe bomb wrapped with nails that exploded
directly under the drivers seat of her car. Judi was maimed
and disabled and Darryl Cherney, the passenger, was also injured.
Upon arriving at the scene, the FBI and local police decided to
help Bari and Cherney through this traumatic event by blatantly
ignoring evidence of their victimisation, and deciding instead to
arrest them for the bombing, telling the media that Bari and Cherney
were violent Earth First! activists who had accidentally blown themselves
up on the way to carry out some evil terrorist plot.
And just why did the FBI and local authorities want to ignore this
attempt on Baris life and instead use the incidence as an
opportunity to slag her off in the media? Because Bari and Cherney
were fighting against commercial logging in an area where the timber
industry has friends in high places. On the day of the bombing,
Bari and Cherney had been driving through California on a speaking
tour aimed at recruiting college students for Redwood Summer - a
campaign of non-violent mass protests against intensive logging.
She and Cherney were seen as such a massive threat to the corporate
logging industry that in the two months prior to the bombing, both
had received numerous death threats from timber industry supporters.
They reported these threats to police, who told Bari If you
turn up dead, then well investigate.
But instead of investigating the bombing as attempted murder, the
FBI and Oakland Police, tried to frame Judi and Darryl for the bombing,
accusing them of knowingly transporting the bomb that nearly killed
them. These sensational false charges made national headlines, and
the FBI and their accomplices kept a two-month media smear campaign
going with a series of false claims about physical evidence linking
Judi to building the bomb. But after delaying formal charges for
seven weeks, when it was finally time for the State to present evidence
in court, surprise, surprise, the FBI and Oakland Police didnt
actually have any. The State announced it would not file charges,
citing the lack of evidence. The Oakland Police closed their investigation,
but the FBI continued theirs, using the pretext of investigating
the bombing as a cover for spying on Earth First! activists, sending
agents to create files on over 500 people who had nothing to do
with the bombing.
A year after the bombing, when it was clear that the authorities
were making no genuine effort to solve the case, Judi and Darryl
filed a federal civil rights suit against the FBI and Oakland Police
Department. The lawsuit was delayed from coming to trial for nearly
11 years by legal shenanigans aimed at wearing down Bari and Cherney.
The FBI gained an immense advantage when Judi died of breast cancer
in 1997, but Judis estate, Darryl Cherney, their legal team
and supporters have kept the suit alive and have cleared every hurdle
and won every appeal.
The trial that had taken 11 long years to come to court finally
ended with a stunning vindication of Judi and Darryl, and a $4.4
million award of damages. A full 80% of the damages were for free
speech violations, showing that the jury understood that the motivation
for the false arrest and illegal searches was to interfere with
Judi and Darryls political activism. This case is not
just about me or Darryl or Earth First!, Judi once said,This
case is about the rights of all political activists to engage in
dissent without having to fear the governments secret police.
More details: www.judibari.org
This week England became Champions of the World. Not on the football
pitch, but in the Nosey Parker Premier League thanks to plans to
give a whole host of bureaucrats the power to spy on us. From NHS
executives to your local council, the Department of Work and Pensions
to the Department for Transport; from the Home Office to the Post
Office all could be getting the same powers of surveillance as the
police. This brilliant idea comes thanks to a proposed amendment
to the Regulation of Investigator Powers (RIP) Act. If the order
is approved by MPs next Tuesday and the Lords a week later, these
organisations will be able to make telephone companies and internet
service providers hand over detailed personal information on any
of us - without a court order.
The RIP Act was passed two years ago and authorises the targeting
of groups or individuals in order, as the Home Office puts it, to
obtain a picture of his life, activities and his associates.
It also authorises the bugging of homes and cars and the use of
undercover agents. It covers the interception of pagers, mobile
and satellite phones and e-mail, as well as private networks, including
Victims of surveillance cannot even appeal under the Human Rights
Act, which supposedly enshrines the right to privacy because the
RIP Act explicitly prevents such appeals. Your only chance to complain
is to a tribunal - which of course meets in secret.
Not to be outdone and no doubt cheered-on by the British government,
the European Parliament recently gave further powers to all EU governments
to retain all communications data, monitor internet, phone and email
traffic. European governments are now also able to force Internet
service providers and phone companies to keep logs of their users
communications for an as yet unspecified length of time. These records
will allow investigators to build up a detailed picture of an individuals
movements online, including which websites they have visited, the
nature of internet searches they have made, who they have e-mailed
Since September 11th governments across the world have used the
threat of terrorism to pass new laws to listen in on our every move.
As Tony Bunyan, editor of Statewatch, says, This is the latest
casualty in the war against terrorism as far as civil liberties
are concerned. The problem with wanting to monitor a few people
is that you end up having to keep data on everybody. Ian Brown,
Director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research added
which websites we visit or where we travel with a mobile phone
in our pocket reveals a great deal of personal information. Accessing
this information needs to be made more difficult, not opened up
to this huge range of new enquirers. I look at this list and wonder
not at who theyve added, but if I can possibly think of anyone
theyve left out.
* Statewatch: 020 8802 1882 www.statewatch.org
* For more on surveillance: http://tash.gn.apc.org/watched1.htm
* www.stand.org.uk, the campaigning
group that fought against the original RIP Act, has been resurrected
to fight the new powers.
arrest of the Week
For Something or Other...
Last January, Cymru Goch (Socialist Wales) organised their popular
Stuff the Monarchy republican festival. On the eve of
the royal visit, law lecturer Tim Richards, chair of Cymru Goch,
had his house raided by police at 7am on the pretext that Tim allegedly
suggested people start spray-painting stencils of Cymru Gochs
Stuff the Monarchy poster. He was arrested for threatening
to cause criminal damage with a stencil, which is pretty funny
since they didnt find any stencils and no-one has sprayed
any stencils. Hes in court this Tuesday 9.45am at Rhondda
Court, support welcomed Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
MOX On You
On Tuesday, a British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) train transporting
a nuclear flask collided with a lorry at a level crossing in Kent.
The flask was on its way to Dungeness, where it was due to be filled
with up to five tonnes of radioactive spent uranium flue rods before
heading to Sellafield for reprocessing. The collision came in the
same week as two BNFL boats arrived in Japan to pick up enough useable
plutonium to create 50 nuclear bombs.
The plutonium is supposedly on its way back to Britain after BNFL
were forced by Japanese anti-nuclear groups to admit falsifying
data. Although Greenpeace is attempting to stop the plutonium shipment
with a legal challenge in the UK. One of the ships will be acting
as an armed escort and the other will be carrying plutonium mixed
oxide fuel (MOX) that had originally been reprocessed at Sellafield
nuclear plant in Cumbria by BNFL and transported to Japan in 1999
for use in their power plants. The return of this material will
be in defiance of both international and UK law.
There is fear that they could be sitting ducks for rogue states
and terrorists that could capture the plutonium and
use it for weapons. Former government nuclear physicists, ex-MoD
senior staff and authorities on international terrorism warn that
the journey is too risky but there is too much money involved for
BNFL and Blair to heed these warnings. Refusal to take back the
plutonium would sabotage around £4bn of investment between
Japan and BFNL. The new MOX plant at Sellafield cost $500 million
to build and therefore needs this trade with its biggest potential
customer Japan to justify its existence.
As journalist George Monbiot points out this programme can
sustain itself only until the public grasps the two unavoidable
facts of nuclear power. The first is that there is, as yet, no safe
means of disposing of the wastes it produces. The second is that
even if one were found, the monitoring and safe management of these
wastes requires 250,000 years of political and economic stability.
No government on earth can guarantee five. The route the return
shipment will take if the legal challenge fails is still unknown,
but whichever route it takes, a protest flotilla will be there to
meet it. www.nuclearfreeflotilla.org
More info on nuclear transport see www.greenpeace.org
- Saturday 15th theres an Iraq sanction-busting action
outside the Peace Centre, Gardner St. noon-4pm which will move
down to the seafront from 4pm-6pm. People can come and get involved
in wrapping and sending parcels to the Red Crescent in Iraq. Bring
things to send to Iraq. Parcels will be sent from the Ship St
Post Office on Friday 21st at 1pm, in defiance of the sanctions
- Sunday 16th June Marxist Forum on Kashmir. What is behind
the Kashmir conflict? Starts 7pm at the Phoenix Brewery Community
Centre, Phoenix Place, Brighton (on the small alley that runs
down the left hand side of the Phoenix Gallery on Richmond Place).
- Tune in this weekend to Radio 4A on the new frequency
of 107.8FM also online at www.piratetv.net
- Meeting to show opposition to Brightons bid to be European
Capital of Culture, next Wednesday (19) 7.30pm Brighthelm
Community Centre, North Road.
- Chalk Circle squatted community centre in Hove opens
its doors to all this Sunday from 2pm. There will be a raw food
banquet and evening chill out from 4pm with assorted holistic
fluff including massage, meditation and music and events running
throughout the week. They are at Medina House on Hove seafront
next to a café called Marroccos.
- McDonalds has agreed to pay $10 million to vegetarian
and Hindu groups whod taken them to court after they had
failed to tell customers that they used beef based flavouring
in their french fries (sorry excuse for a chip).
- Aldermaston International Disarmament Camp will take
place 13th-18th June, at the Atomic Weapons Establishment near
Reading, Berkshire. On Saturday (15th) there will be a carnival
and march in Reading, and on Monday an action day against AWE
Burghfield, Info: 07905-917532 or www.gn.apc.org/tp2000
- Trade Justice March against international trade rules
and practices, taking place in London next Wednesday (19th) 020-7404-0530
- 56a Infoshop are running a month of freeschool events
throughout June, from vegan baking to sex toy making, from haircutting
to clay oven construction. Visit them at 56a Crampton Street,
London SE17 www.eroding.org.uk/freeschool
- 15th-22nd is the week of action in support of asylum seekers.
Begins on the 15th with protest outside Harmondsworth Detention
Centre near Heathrow 12-2pm. Info: 07960 309457. And ends on 22nd
with a National Demonstration Against Attacks on Asylum Seekers
12 noon at Malet St, London W1. Transport from Brighton. Tickets
£6 from The Peace Centre, Gardner St, Brighton www.barbedwirebritain.org.uk
- Work has started on a 100 meter wide roundabout which is part
of the A701 Edingburgh City bypass in Midlothian, Scotland.
Campaigners would really appreciate any help. www.spokes.org.uk/naag
- Instead of the backbreaking, muscle straining exercise of pulling
up or snapping GM crops, a group calling itself the Brassica
Broadcasting Corporation simply scattered conventional seeds
on the ground over the top of a recently planted GM crop trial.
The conventional and GM plants have since been growing up together,
sabotaging the oilseed rape trial at Alderminster, Warwickshire.
This new-style midnight operation went completely undetected at
first and has changed the density of the control crop, added crop
debris to the herbicide resistant crop, and rendered the results
dubious, if not invalid. The group can be interviewed by email:
- Last Saturday an estimated 250 people from across Scotland
met at Wester Friarton Farm in Newport for a Tea in the
Field protest. 70 anti-GM crop demonstrators trampled
crops in the field. Four people were arrested during the trashing.
- Victory for the Pink Castle! The Pink Castle had been
occupying a field in Dorset since April because the field was
due to be planted with GM crops. But now the farmers nephew
says it is packing up because the Aventis trial has been written
off and they now want to plant a non-GM commercial maize crop
there. On June 15th-16th therell be a tat down
weekend. Theyre going to need plenty of people power and
vehicles so please do go and help em out. Therell
be a party on the Saturday evening. More info: 07773-640159 www.sayhi.to/thecastle
Wayne Heaton, an anti-fascist activist, has been sentenced
to 18 months for violent disorder during the Burnley riots last
summer. Wayne, who grew up in Burnley, was none too happy seeing
the growth of support for the BNP in his home town. So when the
police defended the BNP, Wayne like many locals stood up and fought.
Hed love letters of support. Wayne Heaton - GK 7292, Wing
G1 8, H.M. Prison, 2 Ribblestone Lane, Preston PR1 5AB.
The tribal people of West Papua have been fighting from independence
from Indonesia since it absorbed their country in 1969.
Since then 300,000 West Papuans have been killed at the hands of
the Indonesian army. Last year Dortheys Hiyo Eluay the Papuan political
leader was kidnapped and murdered by Indonesian Special Forces.
Benny Wenda, the Secretary General of Koteka Tribal Assembly, an
important representative of the people of West Papua has now been
arrested and could be the next person to die at their hands if action
is not taken to obtain his release. There is a call for international
support, see www.westpapua.net
While the TV news and the tabloids were stuffed with flag-waving
God-bless-er sentiment over the Golden Jubilee weekend, another
story was unfolding behind the scenes. In London, police nicked
around 40 people before an anti-monarchy protest, even pulling some
out of pubs, apparently to prevent a breach of the peace.
A protester complained The National Front are routinely allowed
to march through sensitive areas - why not us? The cops tell us
that we have to apply for permission to hold a protest - but whats
the use when theyll never grant it in the first place?
The police were understandably touchy though after an action by
the London cell of the Biotic Baking Brigade. An operative calling
herself Agent Royally Pissed Off launched a chocolate fudge cake
at Prince Edward during a royal visit to Hackney. A press release
was issued to press and public saying We need resources not
Royals. Meanwhile police pulled out all the stops to block
an alternative Jubilee free festival. The festival was for a different
royal anniversary, 10 years since Castlemorton, the King of Free
Parties (see SchNEWS 354). Despite police bringing in roadblocks,
dogs and helicopters, the Feeling of Life party went off anyway
and ran for 4 days with thousands attending at Steart Beach on Somersets
sweeping Bridgewater Bay.
For info about this and other free parties/festivals that happened
over the Jubilee weekend check out http://uk.indymedia.org
* The Queens Gallery in Buckingham Palace was renovated with rare
rainforest woods despite Prince Philip being ex-president of the
World Wildlife Fund and an outspoken opponent of unsustainable logging.
More info from Greenpeace Forests campaigner Andy Tait 020 7865
We always thought that Devon was practically another country, but
a suggestion by the Mayor of a small town in Devon looks set to send
the South West back into another century. Mayor Richard Brown, who
isnt too impressed with the vandalism, littering rowdyism,
boy racing, and a nasty tendency to foul mouthed abuse from
the towns youth, has suggested the use of pillory (stocks) to
deal with this nasty sub-species of human (i.e. any one
thats younger than him). And it may appear that legally hell
be allowed to do it, as the use of stocks has never been formally
abolished. SchNEWS aint too sure if the kids of Devon really
deserve this punishment, but we can think of quite a few politicians
who could do with getting splattered with a mouldy tomato or two.
SchNEWS warns all bug eyed snoops that we wont be spooked.
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