Friends of Judi Bari

Letters to the Editor of East Bay Express

Note: The following two letters refer to "Bottom Feeder," an appropriately titled gossip column in the East Bay Express, a weekly tabloid published every Wednesday in Oakland, California. FOJB thanks Karen Pickett and K. Rudin for sending their comments correcting the erroneous information given by Kate Coleman and parroted by East Bay Express writer Will Harper. A link to all previous Express articles mentioning Judi Bari is given at the end.

Reprinted from:
East Bay Express
Letters from the issue of Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Re: "It's the Bomb," Bottom Feeder, 1/19/05

Maybe she (Kate Coleman) deserved it

Will Harper says in his Bottom Feeder column of 1/19, "author Kate Coleman knew she was gonna get a lot of shit for her new book, The Secret Wars of Judi Bari." But it's not because, as Harper puts it, "People get mighty emotional about the late Earth First heroine," but because Coleman did a very poor job of researching, and ended up producing a book rife with inaccuracies, to say nothing of rumor and innuendo.

Harper says he rang up Coleman to ask her about "all the nasty things being said about her and her work." Bringing glaring inaccuracies regarding people, places, dates, and events out in the daylight are only "nasty" if you have an agenda that won't stand up to the truth. It is "nasty" to accuse someone of taking drugs when you have no evidence whatsoever, because Judi (before being debilitated by the car bomb that nearly killed her) had boundless energy and considerable stamina.

Coleman also lets the FBI off the hook way easy, excusing their "mistake" of trying to frame Judi, fellow activist Darryl Cherney, and Earth First. A jury of ten men and women in 2002 did not let the FBI off the hook and found them liable for violating Judi and Darryl's constitutional rights when they tried to frame them and Earth First, liable to the tune of $4.4 million in damages.

It's not that Judi's colleagues and friends "just can't take anything that's not totally laudatory of Our Lady of the Forest" (Coleman's moniker, not mine) -- quite the contrary. Judi stirred things up a lot in the activist community. There are many interesting stories to tell. Coleman, however, never called me or most other people who were close colleagues and friends of Judi's, nor did she attend the Bari vs. FBI trial, so she doesn't tell the stories accurately. To say fact-checking is inadequate is a huge understatement. It's the agenda.

I would say one has only to read the book to understand Coleman's agenda, but please don't give her right-wing publisher Encounter Books your money. Instead, see and and wait for Susan Faludi's biographical book about Judi and the bombing to come out next year. And pick up a copy of the national Earth First! Journal and see if you think EF is dead. Much more interesting reading than Coleman's book.

Karen Pickett, Canyon


Getting better than she gave

In your article, you recount that "Coleman says that she was heckled by angry audience members who yelled 'Lies!' and videotaped her." Her defensive reaction to the presence of a video camera (mine) exemplifies her loose relationship with Truth. In my experience (twenty-plus years of local public-access TV), most authors are genuinely pleased to attract the attention of local media, and to be considered part of the historical record.

In fact, as the video clearly shows, the locals, referred to by Coleman as "followers" and "acolytes," were remarkably polite. People mentioned the book's many departures from known truth (i.e. "lies") respectfully. Considering the astonishing "inaccuracy" of her tome, and its mean-spirited, condescending tenor throughout, Coleman was treated with vastly more civility than she merited!

It needs to be again noted that more than three hundred serious "errors" (lies, actually) have been carefully listed at Any serious discussion of this book must address this. It's amazing that a book that claims to be a "complex, complete" biography can go to print with so much misleading erroneous material. One can only conclude deliberate editorial intent to disinform.

K. Rudin, Ecotopia News Service, Westport

FOJB notes: The Bottom Feeder article the above letters refer to can be read online at

You can find all of the mostly snide articles published in East Bay Express that mention Judi Bari at