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Remembering Slain Peace and Justice Activists on This—and Every—Memorial Day

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/25/remembering-slain-peace-and-justice-activists-and-every-memorial-day


A solemn fist raised to all of those known and unknown.



On this day I am remembering Beth O’Brien who died when she fell from an ancient tree she had been sitting in to save its life. She was 22 years old and was protesting the Eagle Creek timber sale in the Mt. Hood National Forest in April of 2002. I will never forget her bravery and her sacrifice.


Thank you for printing Rachel Corrie’s stirring portrait: a face of fierce solidarity, a necessary inspiration. Does my heart good to see her again. Hi there, Rachel!


Let’s not forget Chris Hani, Steve Biko, Ruth First and Neil Aggett in South Africa and so many more.


There are so many who came home grievously wounded in body, mind, and spirit [PTSD] and loss of limbs–there are so many who never should have gone to war at all-to Iraq and to Afghanistan and all the current wars.

The National Priorities Project demonstrates in black and white reality how the worship of war robs the US Treasury. We could all have single payer healthcare for what it costs to build a fighter jet or battleship or murder civilians in some far off place. Which would you rather have? The pandemic shows the atrocities and inhumanity of the for profit DISEASE CARE current system. Who did you love who died in this viral horror-who could have been saved?

Why do we worship so much violence? Our homeland is rife with violence not only of war but of domestic terrorism, both personal and public. Too many guns and too many who demand their “freedoms” and to hell w/the rest of us. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue models such sociopathic, even insane, behavior.

I say, bring down the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, which murders the youth of our nation and calls it “patriotism.” War is merciless in its murder of all that is holy and good. Those who use this misguided appellation are hiding what the MICC truly represents: GREED.


Thanks Matt,
a democratic nation should remember those who sacrificed
their lives for the good of their country. How little the establishment
press gave to Rachel Corrie’s slaughter by the Israeli military and while
American is spirit and still alive Julian Assange needs also to be remembered.


I would add Paul Wellstone to the list.


Note–Judi Bari is definitely one of our most she-roic warriors. However, she was not killed in the bombing of the car but very seriously injured, with the likelihood that it contributed to her early and tragic death.

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“I remember Karen Silkwood, anti-nuclear activist,”

I don’t remember her being an anti-nuclear activist. I remember her being a pro-union, pro-safety activist and whistleblower.

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Don’t forget the flotillas that went to Israel to protest treatment of Palestinians. And even more, do no forget that protestors were attacked and some murdered in International waters. International’s waters are not recognized by either the United States or Israel. : (

Wow Time prints quite a story on this woman if it is to be believed (~https://time.com/3574931/karen-silkwood/). What do you think is a good source on this story?

Thank you Lincoln Bergman for your comment. Please allow me to flesh out the Judi Bari story a bit more. Judi was a friend and I know her story well from personal observation.

Judi’s car was bombed on May 24, 1990 while she was organizing a campaign called Redwood Summer to draw attention to corporate “liquidation logging” in the Northern California redwood forests where she lived. Judi was grievously wounded when a motion-triggered pipe bomb exploded directly under her drivers seat. She barely survived, but eventually returned to forest defense organizing. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in the fall of 1996 and died in early 1997. Over 1000 people attended her memorial in her hometown of Willits, California.

The bombing was part of a managed smear campaign accusing her of transporting the bomb that maimed her. The timber corporations planned to discredit her and the wider environmental movement just before Redwood Summer began. The bomb-and-blame operation was in the direct financial interest of the three large timber corporations who were most responsible for liquidating the remnant redwood forests. There was a serious logging reform initiative coming on the November ballot that year called Forests Forever, and the industry’s own PR claims were that if it passed it would kill tens of thousands of logging and lumber jobs, and it was clear that it would cost the companies billions in lost profits. They were strongly motivated to defeat it at any cost, spending millions on a PR campaign to discredit environmental activists who supported the initiative, and to turn public opinion against it. That’s where the bomb-and-blame PR operation comes in.

In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, Judi was smeared in the California and national media for six weeks as a drumbeat of false police and FBI charges against her were dribbled out. However the DA never filed formal charges against her. The FBI played a leading role in the false accusations, and refused to admit the total lack of evidence against Judi, continuing to tell the media that she was the only suspect. When November came, the logging reform proposition was defeated, even though it had been strongly favored in opinion polls before the bombing.

Judi filed a civil rights suit against the FBI and Oakland Police, charging false arrest and a campaign to violate her Constitutional rights to organize peacefully in defense of the forests. Defendants’ legal tactics delayed the case for 10 years, during which Judi died of cancer, but her estate doggedly litigated the suit, eventually winning a more than $4 million verdict. The 2002 jury verdict apportioned 80% of the damage award for 1st Amendment violations, and 20% for false arrest. Judi was exonerated five years after her death, and 12 years after the bombing, which is still officially an unsolved crime.

The 30th anniversary of the May 24, 1990 bombing passed on the day before Memorial Day.

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