Saturday, January 1, 2011

Earth First! - IWW Greenhouse Demo By Judi Bari

This is the earliest known Industrial Worker article by Judi Bari, and although the article was published in March of 1989, the action took place the previous September. This effort predates the formation of Earth First!-IWW Local #1. Here one can see the beginnings of a deeper consciousness among labor and environmental activists—as evidenced by IWW members attempts to dialog with timber workers targeted in the demonstration described here.

Earth First! - IWW Greenhouse Demo

By Judi Bari - Industrial Worker, March 1989.

The best thing about our regional Earth First! gatherings are the demonstrations afterwards. I mean, as long as you've got 200 yahooing Earth First!ers together, you might as well do an action. So, in keeping with this venerable tradition, our California Rendezvous last September decided to go for an all-day roving picket line with the theme of the Greenhouse Effect. We whipped up a few big banners saying "Guilty Guilty-Greenhouse Effect Violator," and prepared some indictment forms to lay on the perpetrators.

We had plenty of violators to pick from, but time constraints forced us to limit it to four --Simpson Pulp Mill, Pacific Lumber Corp., Eel River Sawmills, and a public hearing on offshore oil. Simpson was the most dramatic. Truck drivers were surprised by the sudden appearance of a raggedy mob, just back from three days in the woods, blocking the entrance road to the Simpson plant. The first truck stopped and we ran over to tell the driver that the IWW says take a break on us. That was fine with him, and he kicked back to enjoy the show. The driver coming the other direction, though, didn't take it so easy. No damn hippies were gonna stop him from going to work --he was going to ram our line. "Stop Mr. Block!" chanted the crowd, but the truck kept coming until Earth First!er Corbin Solomon courageously dove under the front wheel of the moving semi. The driver stopped, cursed, then rolled forward. Our line held firm, and people started yelling "Brian Wilson!" as the truck wheels came within feet of Corbin's body before it finally stopped.

IWW rep Billy Don Robinson jumped up on the truck's running board to talk some sense into his fellow wage slave. But Mr. Block wasn't in a talking mood, and took a swing at Bill Don. "No jobs on a dead planet!" chanted the crowd, as the standoff continued for 30 minutes, with trucks backed up down the highway in both directions. Finally the police showed up and ordered us to leave. Since we had more work to do that day, we cheerfully obliged, jumping into our cars loudly announcing "Eel River Sawmills next!" Then we proceeded to Pacific Lumber Corp., skipping Eel River for now and losing our police escort.

At Pacific Lumber we paraded around their quaint 19th century company town singing "You can't clear-cut your way to Heaven" and Where are we gonna work when the trees are gone?" Eventually we ran into a hastily assembled counterdemonstration of loggers' wives carrying signs that said "Earth First! is the Worst!" The Earth First! women immediately responded by calling a women's action, and, with the men staying back, we approached the women one on one. We talked about how we had kids too, and how Pacific Lumber wasn't interested in their families' futures. This tactic seemed to take them so off guard that they stopped yelling at us, and, with the intervention of the local minister, agreed to set up a conciliation meeting between Earth First! and Pacific Lumber employees in the near future.

So it was on to our next target. We hung "Greenhouse Effect Violator banners on the mile-long Eel River Sawmills log deck without incident, which was a good thing because by then we were already late for the oil hearing. Although this was an official state hearing, it somehow must not have gotten onto the liberals' computer network.

In contrast to earlier oil hearings where 2000 people showed up to protest offshore oil, hardly anybody came to this one. The testimony was stultifying, with the shirt and-tie bureaucrats droning on about mitigating impacts and overriding economic benefits. Finally our turn came, and Earth First!/IWW songwriter Darryl Cherney took to the podium guitar in hand. We unfurled our banners as he began singing "We're All Dead Ducks", with Earth First!ers in the audience quacking on the chorus and dancing in our seats.

We woke up the hearing, but not enough, because a speaker shortly afterward contended that sonic booms underwater (used in seismic testing to locate oil) don't affect marine mammals. So on cue we all yelled "Sonic BOOM!" at the top of our lungs. The startled bureaucrats started to chastise us, but Darryl just gave them an innocent look and said "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you said sonic booms don't affect mammals!"

By then the day was winding down and so were we. We stood outside in the cold and huddled in a circle and sang for a while. Then, as the sun slowly set on the golden California clear cuts, we went our separate ways, home to our cabins and communes to smoke a joint, drink a beer, and get ready for the next blockade. The Earth First!/IWW 'alliance had pulled off our first joint action, and we were ready for more.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to my (soon to be published) book. The article (above) will be in the book. It actually also ran in the /Earth First! Journal/ which published a /different/ version of the same, which suggests to me that both articles were derived from a longer press release (which I have not been able to locate.

    The earliest /mention/ of Judi Bari in the /Industrial Worker/ was in October 1988. There were two articles that mentioned Judi (and Darryl Cherney as well).

    I suggest a link also to, which is the official commemorative site for Judi Bari and also the "In Memory of Judi Bari Facebook Page: