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FBI, Cops Pay Earth First! Activists $4 Million

"$4 Million Paid to Earth First! Activists

Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune

Friday, May 14, 2004 — Settlement with FBI, Oakland police comes nearly 14 years after car bombing injured environmentalists.

Oakland and the federal government
have paid $4 million to end the long legal battle brought by
two environmental activists against city police and FBI
agents who investigated a 1990 bomb explosion.Darryl Cherney of Redway announced Thursday that the funds
for him and for the estate of late activist Judi Bari were
transferred into an attorney-client trust account May 7 —
less than three weeks shy of the bombing's 14th anniversary.

Cherney said no individual involved with the case would net
more than $500,000. Asked about his own plans, he said,
"Acquire a modest home, help fund a continued investigation
of the bombing, donate to worthy groups and channel energy
into producing CDs of eco-music."

Bari and Cherney, organizers with the environmental activist
group Earth First!, were hurt when a pipe bomb shattered
Bari's car on May 24, 1990, in Oakland, where they had come
to plan a protest over timber companies clear-cutting
Northern California's old-growth forests. Oakland police
arrested them hours after the blast, telling the press they
were eco-terrorists who had knowingly possessed the bomb.
But prosecutors two months later declined to charge them,
citing insufficient evidence. Nobody else was ever arrested.

The activists sued in 1991, saying the Oakland police and
FBI violated their Fourth- and First-Amendment rights by
falsely arresting them and illegally searching their homes
in a frame-up to discredit and disrupt their political work.
Bari died of cancer in 1997.

After a six-week trial and 17 days of deliberations, a jury
in June 2002 held six of the seven defendants liable for
$4.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages; one FBI
agent was found not liable for any violation. Of the total
amount, the Oakland defendants were liable for $2,001,000
and the federal defendants were liable for $2,399,000.

As the possibility of appeals loomed, the parties last year
agreed in principle to the $4 million payout to end the
matter. Oakland City Council approved its half last July,
but federal approval came only recently.

"In the wake of 9-11 and Bush's assault on our civil rights,
our trial victory is more urgent then ever," Cherney said in
a news release Thursday.

Oakland City Council also last year proclaimed May 24 "Judi
Bari Day," praising her as a dedicated social and
environmental activist.