Environmental Activists Given $4.4M
*By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS*
*Filed at 4:19 p.m. ET*
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A federal jury awarded $4.4 million Tuesday to
two radical environmentalists who accused Oakland police and the FBI of
trying to frame them for a 1990 bomb blast that wrecked the activists' car.
After 17 days of deliberations, the jury awarded the money to activist
Darryl Cherney and the estate of Judi Bari, who died of cancer in 1997.
Cherney and Bari were injured when a bomb exploded in their Subaru in
1990. Bari, who was at the wheel, suffered a crushed pelvis.
The two Earth First! members were arrested within hours, with
investigators saying that Cherney and Bari were carrying the bomb for
use in an act of environmental sabotage and that it went off
accidentally underneath Bari's seat.
But the case fell apart weeks later when prosecutors said there was not
enough evidence to bring charges.
Cherney and Bari sued for false arrest, illegal search, slanderous
statements and conspiracy. They claimed officials ignored evidence
exonerating the activists and lied to try to make their case.
``You've got to send a message that the lies and false claims in this
case will never happen to someone else,'' their attorney J. Tony Serra
told the jury.
The officers and FBI agents claimed that they acted in good faith. They
argued that at the time of the bombing, Earth First! had a reputation
for sabotage -- including a dangerous practice called tree-spiking --
and that it was not unreasonable to suspect them of transporting a bomb.
At the time of the bombing, Bari and Cherney were organizing Redwood
Summer, a series of protests against the logging of old-growth forests.
The activists argued that investigators did not try to probe an
anonymous letter sent to a newspaper shortly after the bombing.
The letter gave details about the construction and placement of the
bomb. The writer, claiming to be ``the Lord's avenger,'' said the bomb
was retribution for Bari's participation in an abortion rights