Who Bombed Judi Bari?


‘I’m weak and getting weaker,” the late environmental activist Judi Bari says at the beginning of Who Bombed Judi Bari? Cancer, and not the car bomb that detonated as she drove to a 1990 deforestation protest, has weakened Bari as we see her in a taped 1997 deposition. Insult upon injury didn’t stop the central figure of Mary Liz Thomson’s tough and intriguingly well-told account of the fight between environmentalists and corporate raiders (perhaps abetted, we learn, by the government) from taking the battle to her deathbed. This, at least, can be said about that fight: The media showed up to cover it. Thomson has assembled the story almost entirely from archival news footage and newspaper stories. The result is a pseudo-vérité assemblage of events, stretching back to Bari’s background as a union organizer, through her efforts to check the devastation of the Pacific Northwest’s redwood forests to the bombing (which resulted, incredibly, in Bari and her colleague Darryl Cherney, a producer here, being charged with transporting explosives) and its aftermath. That the fight to identify the bomber(s) survived her (and continues in the courts today) suggests Bari’s impact is unrivaled by that of a homemade explosive.