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July 2002

Activists Win In Judi Bari Vs. FBI Trial

The jury in the Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney federal civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers awarded plaintiffs $4.4 million for violation of the activists' Constitutional rights and returned a verdict largely in favor of Earth First! activists Cherney and the late Judi Bari. In a legal victory of historic proportions against the FBI, the jury found that six of the seven defendants violated the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution by arresting the activists, conducting searches of their homes, and carrying out a smear campaign in the press, calling Earth First! a terrorist organization and calling the activists bombers, in the aftermath of the explosion of a bomb that was planted in Judi Bari's car in 1990. The verdict finds unlawful the actions of those in charge of the bombing investigation, and vindicates Bari and Cherney.

FBI agents Frank Doyle, John Reikes, Philip Sena and OPD officer Mike Sims were found to have violated Bari and Cherney's First Amendment rights. In addition, OPD officers Sitterud was found to have violated Cherney's First Amendment rights. Doyle was found to have violated Bari's Fourth Amendment rights related to the search of her home, and Doyle and OPD officer Chenault were found to have violated Cherney's Fourth Amendment rights. FBI agent Doyle and OPD officer Sims were found to have violated Bari's fourth Amendment rights in relation to her arrest. The jury returned an "undecided" verdict with respect to violations of Cherney's Fourth Amendment rights for his arrest.

Frank Doyle was the agent in charge of the 1990 bomb scene, and taught an FBI bomb school at a Louisiana Pacific clearcut a month prior to the bombing. Doyle was also the Squad 13 relief supervisor. Squad 13 was the join terrorism squad made up of FBI and Oakland officers and collected extensive files on political groups in the Bay Area. Reikes was the head of the FBI's terrorist squad who came to OPD headquarters the day of the bombing to give the inflammatory briefing on Earth First!

Sena was already engaged in a secret investigation of Earth First! and concocted a fake informant tip.

Sims was an OPD homicide lieutenant in charge of other officers investigating the bombing and the decision-maker for the unjust arrests of the activists.

Sitterud ignored evidence at the scene and concocted information that would implicate the activists. Chenault wrote the first fraudulent search warrant affidavit.

This verdict is a referendum against the FBI's gross interference with people's right to dissent at a time when Attorney General Ashcroft, FBI Director Mueller and the Bush administration are arrogating huge power to themselves and the FBI to spy on legitimate groups and organizers and infringe the Constitutional rights of the public.

 

 

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