The Judi Bari Trial and the FBI: A View from the Jury Box; When News Isn't News: The Media and the Bari Trial
August 30, 2002
The Judi Bari Trial and the FBI: A View from the Jury Box
By Nicholas Wilson
Reporter Nicholas Wilson recently conducted an extraordinary in-depth interview with Bari vs. FBI trial juror Mary Nunn. This moving account of the Bari trial as viewed from the jury box has been published online by the Albion Monitor.
Alicia Littletree, Judi and Darryl outside the US Federal Courthouse in Oakland in 1996. Credit: Photo by Nicholas Wilson www.judibari.org
The Albion Monitor is a web-only newspaper with an international readership and more than 4,000 archived articles on the environment, human rights, politics, health and media criticism. The Monitor is supported entirely by subscriptions. Visit the Albion Monitor at www.monitor.net.
The following excerpts are reposted with permission of the author.
The full Mary Nunn interview may be read on the Albion Monitor at:
Nicholas Wilson: You are the only juror who is willing to talk about your experience.
Mary Nunn: I really want to tell my story because I felt really passionate about it. And for so long you couldn't talk about it. I think if you don't speak out about it and tell the truth about what happened, and how it was manipulated, then people won't know. And then every time they read something about the FBI they'll be taken in....
When I started that trial I didn't know anything about environmentalists or that movement. I didn't know anything about this group. And I was kind of like, well, maybe they acted up a bit; maybe the police were worthy. I went in there with that attitude. But when I sat and listened to the evidence, and I saw all that had happened, I did a 180-degree turn in that courtroom. And then my heart just poured out to them. I couldn't believe what they had been through. ...
Wilson: Did you think the police and FBI witnesses were lying in court?
Nunn: They absolutely were lying. I didn't just think that they were lying. The search warrant showed that they were lying. Their inconsistency showed that they were lying. Their stories didn't jibe, not one together. Each one was evading the question or saying they didn't remember. These people are notorious for note keeping. They're notorious for their files. So all of a sudden they don't recall anything? Well you had twelve years to catch up. Why didn't you prepare yourself? Why didn't you go at least to acting classes and get lessons in how to present yourself in a desirable fashion on the stand? ...
Wilson: Eighty percent of the total damage award was for First Amendment violations. How did the defendants violate the First Amendment rights? What acts did they do?
Nunn: One that really touched me was the nightly TV news spots that (Oakland Police Department Lt. Michael) Sims delivered, smearing their name. It was just character assassination. It was just horrible. Sending that all over the Bay Area and who knows where else. "These are bombers. There are no other suspects. Our primary focus is on these two." It was horrifying. How do you rebound from that? They lost their ballot Proposition 130 that year, not to mention the trees. They lost their face in society. Judi's kids were teased and taunted at school. They had to walk around in fear, never knowing where this crazy bomber is at.
Wilson: You got a chance to see the actual bombed car.
Nunn: I didn't have to see the car. It was nice that I saw the car. I saw the seat. I saw the injuries. I saw her character. I saw her following. You don't get 50-plus people to fill a courtroom each day if you're not a good person. It just doesn't happen.
Wilson: How about the sheriff-elect of Humboldt County who testified that there has never been a tree-spiking or sabotage incident in the past 20 years in Humboldt or Mendocino Counties?
Nunn: Right. Darryl and Judi didn't even have a criminal history. They just don't strike me as people who would do those kinds of things. They're both educated, and they're passionate. How do you go from loving something like a tree to wanting to go hurt people with a bomb. If you're going to love a tree, you're going to love a person more so. It didn't fit their character. It didn't fit any of those people's character in that room. Those people (the Earth First! supporters) had an essence of light about them. They were so mellow and laid back and earthy and kind. Come on! They didn't fit the description of people who would try to hurt people. They really touched me and I was really moved by them. At one point, I wanted to run away and become one of them. They have such an ease about them.
Wilson: What did you think of Judi Bari on video?
Nunn: I was really moved by Judi Bari, the stances she took and the way she stood up to those people and never gave up the good fight. I drove home one day during deliberations, and I was in deep prayer about all this. I remember saying, "Don't worry Judi. I got your back in this. There's no way they're going to prevail. I've got your back in this, girl." I would drive home and say that out loud, hoping she could hear. I know she can see us from heaven. I know she can see this taking place. I know she's feeling a little bit better about it.
When News Isn't News: The Bari Trial and the Media
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
June 19, 2002 - Nothing is more amazing than the ability of the American media to deep-six one story, while gang-banging another, ad infinitum.
The violence of the car bomb - and its location (hidden beneath Judi's seat) - were quickly evident when the jury was shown the remains of the wrecked Subari. Credit: Oakland Police Department photo.
In this post-modern age, when hundreds of media outlets have been squished together through mergers and acquisitions, and all of the heads of American mass media can meet together in a modest two-bedroom apartment, news has become the mouthpiece of the mighty, and an appendage to the people who wield corporate power.
This maddening merger-mania has spawned the recent spate of one-issue, star/personality/sleaze-driven "stories" which have so inundated the media that they can be encapsulated in one name: O.J., Monica, Chandra and the like.
The problem with this "all-O.J./Monica/Chandra-all-the-time" TV is that much of the world remains woefully uninformed about events that have occurred that may have a good deal more meaning than these sleazefests.
Barely a paragraph broke through the new corporate media morass about a jury verdict in the police framing and bombing case involving the two Earth First! activists stemming from the early 1990s.
The federal jury, after extended deliberations, found federal and local cops liable, and awarded $4.4 million dollars in damages to the estate of the late Judi Bari and a severely-injured survivor of the bombing, Darryl Cherney.
Two American citizens sat in their car on a nice, summer day in 1990 and were almost blown to bits. Judy Bari, to her dying day, argued, not only her innocence, but the guilt of the government agents, who miraculously appeared on the scene, within moments.
When the bomb exploded in a Subaru holding Bari and Cherney, the FBI and Oakland police pointed the finger at the two environmentalists - essentially charging that they bombed themselves! - as they lay in serious and critical condition as the result of the blast.
Twelve years later, a US jury found government officials liable for false arrest, illegal search, slander and conspiracy. Some of the feds involved in the case were veterans of the infamous COINTELPRO program and were involved in the framing of Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) and other former Black Panthers.
In a time when the FBI and other police agencies are being given loads of new monies as well as vast new powers over the people, isn't it important for people to know what they've done just 10-12 years ago?
Isn't this arguably more important to the life of the nation than Britney's new love, or Hillary's new hairdo? Isn't this more important to the average American, especially in light of 9/11, when some evidence emerges that some government agencies had prior knowledge of the events of 9/11?
A jury has vindicated [Bari and Cherney]. But, who tried to kill them? The lumber companies? The FBI? Why wasn't this story on every front page in America?
© 2002 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and journalist, has spent the past 20 years on death row. At the age of 15 Abu-Jamal became the Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party's Philadelphia chapter. In his 20s, Abu-Jamal's critical broadcasts focusing on police brutality brought him to the attention of the Philadelphia power structure.
On dark night, while Mumia was driving a cab, he observed some police officers beating his brother on the street. Mumia went to his brother's defense and both Mumia and Officer Daniel Faulkner were shot. Faulkner died and Mumia was charged with his death. After a seriously flawed 1982 trial that Amnesty International ruled violated "minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures," Abu-Jamal was sentenced to die.
Mumia has always maintained his innocence. Several witnesses reported seeing the actual shooter flee the scene. A man named Arnold Beverly subsequently confessed to being one of two men who fired at Officer Faulkner.
Mumia's supporters and defense attorney Leonard Weinglass have demanded a new trial but Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (now head of the White House's Office of Homeland Security), signed a death warrant scheduling Mumia for execution. The death warrant is now on appeal.
In his book, Live from Death Row (Addison-Wesley), Abu-Jamal warned of America's frantic "march toward the death chamber." The Bush administration, now seems positioned to fulfill a prediction Abu-Jamal made in the Yale Law Journal several years ago: "States that have not slain in a generation now ready their machinery: generators whine, poison liquids are mixed, and gases are measured and readied."
If Abu-Jamal's final request for a fair trial is denied, his supporters claim, America will witness its first political execution since the death of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953.
What You Can Do:
Write to Governor Schweiker of Pennsylvania [225 Main Capitol Bldg., Harrisburg, PA 17120] to request a new trial.
Write to Mumia Abu-Jamal [AM 8335, Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg, PA 15370].
For More Information, Contact:
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 4601 Market Street , Philadelphia, PA, (215) 476-8812, www.mumia.org.
The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, 3425 Cesar Chavez, San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-695-7745.
For Mumia's broadcasts: www.flashpoints.net/MumiaLibrary.html and www.pacifica.org/programs/mumia.
Other sites: www.freemumia.com, www.j4mumia.org, www.mumia2000.org.
For more information contact:
Contact the websites and resources listed in the above article.