There was a sizable hole in your buttocks...
JUDI: I wasn't aware of that yet. I'm basically talking about my awareness: I couldn't move at all, my leg was in traction and there were tubes coming from all parts of my body. I kind of began to remember that I had been bombed. And as I began to focus in this groggy state, the first thing I focused on was two uniformed police, and they wanted to question me about bombing myself.
And in this devastated state, in which I was drugged and in absolute shock, I couldn't deal with these cops trying to talk to me, and I said: "I won't talk to you without a lawyer."
They went away, but it's in the record that I said that, and my refusal to talk to them at that point becomes one of the things that they point to to say: "Oh, she must be a suspect because she wouldn't talk to us." Well, it was a reflex. I just couldn't deal with them. I just wanted them to go away.
Then I drifted back into unconsciousness. And for the next ten days, I was unconscious most of the time. I would drift in and out of consciousness. People would come, go. I wasn't allowed visitors because I was under arrest. I was placed under arrest while I was in surgery -- three hours after the bombing is the time on the arrest warrant.
My next memory
remember my lawyer coming. I remember [Santa Rosa Press Democrat reporter] Mike Geniella coming. But these events don't connect for me. I would drift in and out of consciousness and I would remember people being there, but it all didn't make much sense to me at the time -- although I hear I was quite lucid when I talked, giving people a false impression of how conscious I really was. Really, I have few memories and little understanding of what was going on. At a time like that you are reduced to your core, your gut. What's coming out of you is what's really deep inside you.
And I'm certain that the police, with their experience with people near death, knew this. Yet they pretended that this was all a conspiracy, and a ruse on our part.
I remember participating in the vigil at your bedside on the day Nelson Mandela came to Oakland. We listened to his speech together on the radio, and my memory is of you lucid in your response to that speech, floating above the pain, with this excruciatingly large, weeping hole in your rump, your leg up in plaster. In some way managing to float above the pain as an act of will. You had just rejected your pain killers.
JUDI: I was on morphine for ten days -- and I was wasting away. I wasn't eating. I was being fed with intravenous tubes. And I began, again, to feel myself dying. And I didn't have any will to live. But as I began to become more conscious, I realized this, and that if I didn't get off this morphine, I was going to die. So I asked them to stop giving me morphine, and they did. But they replaced it with Demerol, and then they replaced the Demerol with codeine.
So I wasn't off of drugs. But once I got off the morphine, I began to regain consciousness. I had a calendar in my hospital room, and I remember I drew a big eye on the day that I decided I was going to live -- the day I decided I was going to stop taking the morphine and I was going to live. I drew an eye to represent my return to consciousness, and that was probably shortly before you saw me...
Fearful for your life ...
JUDI: Terrified. There was an unknown assassin out there who had tried to kill me. Then, this incredible thing happened. Activists from all over the region came to take turns sitting vigil in my room to protect me.
While I was fully under arrest, there were cops guarding me. They had these cop guards outside. One of the things they did in order to make people think that they had caught a "major terrorist" was the way they manipulated the bail. Normally, the bail for transporting explosives (the charges against me) is $12,000. But that wasn't enough for a "major terrorist." The Oakland police had gone to a judge and gotten what is called a "bail enhancement."
I've found out since that they raised both Darryl's and my bail simultaneously. At the time, they sealed the bail enhancement request from us (in which they have to list the reasons why they need so much bail.) Finally, after years of bantering with them, we got to see my bail enhancement request -- we've never seen Darryl's -- and all it says is that "Judi Bari was transporting explosives to an unknown location, and that bail should be increased because she is a flight risk and a danger to the public."
I mean! I was unconscious in the hospital with my leg in traction! and I'm a flight risk and a danger to the public!
Our lawyers, the FBI and the Oakland police had a battle over the bail. Eventually, people raised the bail money for Darryl so that he could get out, and the lawyers convinced the judge to release me on my own recognizance -- in the hospital. But as soon as I was "released" the police guard went away and there were no guards.
I want to back up
a bit: While I was in the intensive care unit -- this is before you saw me, while I was on the morphine, while I was under arrest still, and they were raising the bail, and I was officially a prisoner -- at some time during that time period
somebody from the police said
that since I was a prisoner I should be in the jail ward,
and without the doctor's knowledge or consent,
they body-snatched me.
They stole me out of the intensive care ward and took me up to the jail ward. And I remember the feeling of absolute despair. I was removed from any sympathetic care, and placed on this ward where there is one nurse for the entire floor. I was very very sick at the time. I should have been in Intensive Care. This was far, far from intensive care.
They put me in a room with a woman from the prison who was in labor. There was a curtain between us so we couldn't see each other. I was very very sick, but I remember her asking me what I was there for, and I remember saying something about being bombed, and I remember her asking me if she could have my drugs, and my saying, "Sure," which shows how absolutely unconscious I was, because I couldn't have survived without them.
I don't know how long I was there because I have no consciousness of time during that period, but when the doctors found out I was missing, they were furious, and they came and body-snatched me back.
Actually, they were having this battle over me that went on some days, so I was also terrified of being sent back to the jail ward because if I was not released on my own recognizance, then I would be sent back up to this jail ward where I would be treated like shit and not have the care that I needed to even survive.
So, I was very scared of being taken to the jail ward, and I was very scared of assassination. I was scared that whoever tried to kill me would come back and finish the job. It was like a hole in my gut. It was like my life-forces were reduced. I didn't have anything inside me, anything to go on. At all the other junctures -- death threats, being rammed by a logging truck, whatever -- I was able to reach down inside myself and find some resources to go on. But in the hospital, there was nothing left of me. I was too terrified. And it was at that point when the Movement came forward and provided me with that resource.
Karen Pickett, an Earth First! organizer in Berkeley -- a really wonderful person; long, long term solid, responsible, wonderful person -- she organized people from the Movement from all over to take shifts to guard my hospital room so I wouldn't have to be alone. And I was not alone for a minute for six months after that. I was too afraid to be alone, too afraid to be unguarded.
(I was not really very aware of this at the time, but the doctor who operated on me was very understanding of my needs, and even though the hospital rules had certain visiting hours, he allowed those rules to be broken so that I could have 24 hour support. )
There was not one minute when there was not somebody there. Not one minute the whole time I was in the hospital. People did shifts. People guarded the door. People came in and held my hand.
When I didn't have the resources to go on, the Movement provided that for me. It was an incredible experience of learning to really appreciate who we are. I really learned what collective action meant. I learned the individual is only a piece of it. The tremendous outpouring allowed me to survive the bombing, allowed me to begin to rebuild my inner resources.
Albion Monitor January 13, 1997 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)