The PALCO Papers
Corporate millionaires are a vindictive lot. Take Charles Hurwitz, for example. When he's not busy raiding other companies, slaughtering ancient redwoods, or stealing the workers' pension plan, Hurwitz amuses himself by suing impoverished Earth First!ers. Thus it came to be that Pacific Lumber, also known as PALCO, is suing Earth First! activists Darryl Cherney and George Shook for $25,000 for the crime of sitting in a redwood tree.
Darryl and George have already paid their debt to society for this "crime" by serving 10 days in the Humboldt County jail. But the lawsuit asks for additional civil penalties. Of course Hurwitz knows that he'll never get any money out of Darryl or George, since neither of them owns a thing. The purpose of this lawsuit is bare-faced harassment. Such lawsuits are called SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), and are a standard weapon in the arsenals of destructive corporations trying to avoid public accountability. They are filed against people for engaging in political activities that should be protected by the Constitution. And, although SLAPP suits often fail in court, they succeed in diverting the attention and resources of activist groups, and in intimidating people from challenging the rich and powerful.
Darryl and George first attempted to settle this suit out of court, but PALCO refused their generous offer to pay $100 each, and the lawsuit moved on to the Justice Court of Fortuna. Fortuna is a town whose national anthem is "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm Okay," where the police chief last April instructed the good citizens not to talk to Earth First!ers. So Darryl and George, represented by lawyer Mark Harris (of Redwood Summer/Head Shaving Case fame) asked for a change of venue. And that's when the case got interesting.
Since they needed to prove that EF!ers can't get a fair trial in Fortuna, lawyer Mark Harris used the right of Discovery to request all documents Pacific Lumber may have relating to Cherney or Earth First! The stuff he got back -- mostly internal company memos sent from public relations director David Galitz to PALCO president John Campbell -- shows a sneeering, bully mentality worthy of any Mississippi good old boy.
And it shows Pacific Lumber's complicity, at least in the role of official cheerleader, in the violence we are subjected to. I'm not making up a word of this. These are real Pacific Lumber memos, and are available for inspection.
The first memo is dated June 21, 1989, shortly after EF! organizer Greg King was punched and knocked to the ground by an irate logger at a non-violent demonstration in Calpella. Galitz sends this memo, along with a clipping from the Press Democrat, to Charles Hurwitz, John Campbell and others in MAXXAM and PALCO management. It reads:
The next memo we have is dated April 18, 1990, right around the time the timber companies began circulating false press releases claiming to be from unnamed Earth First!ers saying that we intended to use violence against loggers and millworkers during Redwood Summer. Galitz writes to John Campbell:
Galitz' acknowledgement that this press release was fake since it misspelled Darryl's name is particularly interesting. Because despite this knowledge PALCO continued to distribute the press release, through their public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, to city newspapers. In fact on April 25, 1990, Jane Kay of the San Francisco Examiner wrote an article criticizing them for having just distributed this "inflammatory" press release. A few days later, columnist Robert Morse wrote, "Things are getting pretty weird up there. Not only are the trees being clearcut, but dirty tricksters are turning them into fake press releases." Darryl then approached both John Campbell and L-P's Shep Tucker to try and get them to stop the distribution of these fakes. Both company reps admitted to Darryl that the fakes were being distributed in but [sic] their mills, but neither was willing to take any action to stop it.
On April 23, Galitz sent another memo to John Campbell, this time chuckling over the death threats I was receiving:
The "wanted poster on Charles" that Galitz refers to was an Earth First! flyer offering $1000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Charles Hurwitz for his illegal takeover of Pacific Lumber. Quite a far cry from the anonymous and obviously serious death threats I was receiving, including the rifle scope and cross-hairs superimposed over my face in a photo.
Since Galitz so enjoys seeing us threatened and attacked, it's not surprising that he would latch right on to the Sahara Club Newsletter. The Sahara Club is an organized hate group from Southern California that targets Earth First! and other environmentalists. They came here in person during Redwood Summer and gave workshops for the local Stompers on how to use dirty tricks against us, and they even got arrested planting a fake bomb in the Arcata Action Center. Anyway, back on April 27, Galitz mailed copies of the Sahara Club Newsletter to Kevin Eckery of the Timber Association of California and Shep Tucker of L-P, with the following cover letter:
Here is a sample of the "writing style" Galitz enjoys so much, taken from the Sahara Club Newsletter he was distributing last April:
This same issue of the Sahara Club Newsletter includes a diagram of a bomb that they claim is from an Earth First! terrorism manual. The Sahara Club will send you this manual for $5. Of course, Earth First! never produced any such manual, and it is only available from the Sahara Club. But by distributing it as ours, they accomplish a dual purpose of getting info out on how to construct bombs, etc., while simultaneously inciting hatred against Earth First!
Of course PALCO execs shed no tears when I actually was bombed in May. May 29 found Galitz distributing this cheery note from State Senator Jim Nielsen:
The PALCO Papers that we have seen are probably incomplete. There are, for example, no memos concerning John Campbell ramming our picket line last August and careening down the road with Bob Serena plastered to his hood. I'm sure they got a belly laugh out of that, especially when Bob Serena went to jail and John Campbell went free. But even what we've seen shows an outrageous glimpse of corporate executives promoting and enjoying violence against Earth First!ers. And I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Darryl and George's dedicated (and pro bono) lawyer Mark Harris submitted a Brittanica-sized brief to show the judge why EF!ers couldn't get a fair trial in Fortuna. It included the above memos, along with dozens of local newspaper articles and letters to the editor saying Darryl is violent, a terrorist, corrupting children, inhuman, ungodly, etc. It included newspaper clips form last April when the city council and police chief of Fortuna made public anti-Earth First! statements, saying we were violent because Fortunans threw eggs at us at a demonstration. It included the bumpersticker that says, "Earth First!ers, America's Favorite Speed Bumps." But despite all this and more, Judge John L. Loomis ruled last week that he would not move the trial out of Fortuna.
Darryl and George are appealing this decision, of course. If you would like to help with expenses, please send contributions to Mark Harris/EF! Legal Defense, P.O. Box 982, Arcata, CA 95521. We don't know what the outcome of this suit will be, but so far, as a SLAPP suit, it has failed miserably. The info we have gotten as a result of this case far exceeds the hassle or intimidation it has caused.
This article originally appeared in the March 27, 1991 issue of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and then in the May 1, 1991 issue of Earth First! Journal. This transcription is from those sources.
This article also appears in the book Timber Wars and Other Writings, by Judi Bari, copyright © 1992 Judi Bari. All rights reserved. Non-commercial use of any of this material is permitted without prior approval, providing that all copies or reprints show this book title and author as the source.
Commercial copying or reprinting is strictly prohibited without prior written approval of the author.
The latest edition of Timber Wars has 300 pages and can be bought at (or ordered from) any decent bookstore at the cover price of $14.95 for paperback (ISBN 1-56751-026-4) or $29.95 for hardback (ISBN 1-56751-027-2). If your bookstore can't get it, you can order it directly (at an additional cost of $3.00 shipping and handling) from the publisher, Common Courage Press, PO Box 702, Monroe ME 04951. You can also reach them by phone toll-free at 800/497-3207.
The Judi Bari Trust Fund provides for her children, c/o M.E.C., 106 W. Standley St., Ukiah CA 95482. The Redwood Justice Fund supports Bari's and Cherney's lawsuit, P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa CA 95402.