No Pepper Spray on Nonviolent Protesters

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revised 6/4/06

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BACH - Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters 

As the rapid destruction of the redwood forest in Humboldt County accelerated after the Maxxam takeover of Pacific Lumber in 1985, it became apparent that greater outreach was needed for forest defense. In 1993, the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH) was formed to educate, activate, and mobilize people in the San Francisco Bay Area. BACH was establish as a volunteer-driven grassroots project under the sponsorship of the Ecology Center in Berkeley.

BACH works in collaboration with grassroots activists and organizations in Northern California who use diverse tactics and strategies to advocate ecologically sound solutions for the forest ecosystems of California's north coast.

BACH supports the pepper spray plaintiffs and provides media outreach and contacts for us. Contact Karen Pickett at 510-548-3113.

Plaintiff Noel Tendick's website .

Noel says:

I recently published a book of poetry titled Simple Frames. Divided into four elemental chapters, it explores relationships to community, self, and the natural world. These are poems of exploration, bearing witness, and question. They come from years of experience moving through wild places, as an activist and devotee, sharing awe, joy, and sorrow. Whether you read a poem about being pepper-sprayed while protecting old-growth redwoods, about sitting by the ocean or hiking in the mountains, simply know that these poems were written for you and the intricate paths we all share.

Read Noel's poem "Resistance Is Fertile" on this website

The Judi Bari website 

The late Earth First! leader Judi Bari was one of the primary organizers for the preservation of Headwaters Forest, organizing mass rallies that drew thousands in support of Headwaters in 1995 and 1996 and helped put it on the national radar screen. Judi was the victim of a 1990 car bomb attack while organizing for Redwood Summer, a campaign of nonviolent protests to draw attention to liquidation logging of the redwoods by giant logging corporations. Rather than try to find the bomber, the FBI and Oakland Police tried to frame Judi and Darryl Cherney, who was traveling with her, falsely accusing them of knowingly carrying the bomb which blew up under her driver's seat. Judi and Darryl filed suit in 1991 for false arrest and violation of their 1st Amendment rights to organize politically. In 2002, a federal jury awarded the pair $4.4 million in damages from FBI agents and OPD officers. The legal team which won that victory now represents the Headwaters pepper spray plaintiffs in their suit against Humboldt County and the City of Eureka. Judi died of breast cancer in 1997. Visit the Judi Bari website for much more info about Judi and the FBI bombing case. 

Humboldt Truth In Action Center

Here you can sample the Pacific Lumber propaganda ads smearing nonviolent activists as "ecoterrorists" and see a letter to PL bosses asking them to cease and desist such divisive ads. 

Earth Films 

Earth Films, which grew out of the Headwaters Action Video Collective (HAVC), produces excellent forest activism documentaries, including Fire in the Eyes which was aired on national TV on the Free Speech TV satellite and cable channel.  

Fire in the Eyes videoFire In The Eyes, a powerful, unnerving look at Humboldt County's policy of using pepper spray directly on the eyes of non-violent protesters, based on our case.  This 32 minute portrayal of the controversial police torture tactic, euphemistically called "pain compliance," shows the dark side of law & order.

The video can be ordered online from

You can also watch it online from the FSTV website.

KMUD-FM Redwood Community Radio 

Listener supported KMUD is the people's voice of the Southern Humboldt community. KMUD News is the best source of up to date and fair coverage of developments in the Redwood battles and many other issues of importance. You can listen to KMUD news and talk programs on the Internet. The news airs at 6 p.m. Pacific time Monday thru Friday, with a taped repeat the next morning at 8 a.m. 

Trees Foundation 

The Trees Foundation was founded with the mission “Working for the conservation and restoration of the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems by assisting, supporting, and promoting Affiliate organizations in North Coastal California.” Trees Foundation accomplishes this by providing skilled professional support to conservationists at no charge. They raise funds, provide access to expensive equipment, and employ a skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of North Coast conservationists.

Trees provides a secure online donation service for our case.

Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) 

EPIC is a grassroots, non-profit organization which strives to preserve one of the world's most productive and endangered ecosystems: the coastal low elevation ancient forests of northern California. Since 1977, EPIC has been protecting the forests and endangered species of Northern California through education and strategic litigation.

Earth First! Journal 

Published by an editorial collective within the Earth First! no-compromise environmental action movement.
Redwood Activists Fighting on Every Front
- Brigid 2003 issue

As the Pepper Spray Clears
- Eugene OR case settled after five years - Mabon 2002 issue
Federal Court Restricts Use of Pepper Spray on Nonviolent Activists - Brigid 2002 issue

We Save Trees! 

"We Save Trees!" is a Nonviolent Direct Action group in Arcata, Humboldt County, California. They have tree-sitters defending ancient redwoods in the Freshwater Creek watershed northeast of Eureka from the chain saws of Maxxam/Pacific Lumber. Visit their website for the latest updates.

Cascadia Summer 

In light of the all out war being currently waged on our public forests and environmental protections by George W. Bush and the timber industry, forest defenders throughout the mountains of Oregon, Northern California and Southern Washington are organizing a campaign during the upcoming summer of 2003. We are issuing a call to action to all concerned individuals and organizations to request their aid during the upcoming summer months. "Cascadia Summer 2003 is a call to action, a coordinated effort from concerned friends of Cascadia, near and far, focused on protecting Cascadia's ecosystems as a part of nature and bringing society into balance through education & direct action."

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center 

The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild) works to protect and restore the outstanding biological diversity of the Klamath-Siskiyou and south Cascadian ecoregions of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, education and collaboration to help build healthy ecosystems and sustainable communities.

Albion Monitor 

One of the earliest Internet newspapers. The Monitor published comprehensive articles about the first trial in the Headwaters Pepper Spray case. Some of its contents require a subscription and password, but all the articles about our case are free. Use the archive search for "pepper spray".

See also the Monitor's "Headwaters Index" page, which focuses on the killing of forest defender David "Gypsy" Chain in 1998, where deputies again used pepper spray on locked down nonviolent protesters.

San Francisco Bay IMC Forest Defense & Tree-sit News Page 

Hosted by the San Francisco branch of the international Independent Media Center movement. 

Nicholas Wilson Photography - 

Nicholas Wilson did much of the photography for this website and also attended and reported on the trials, all three of them. His website includes hundreds of photos.

Archived original website for this case

The Non-Violent Pepperspray Victims Homepage was the original website for this case. It was taken down years ago, but you can view an archived copy of the site from 1998. Please remember that it's a static time capsule, not a current website, so do not use the addresses or phone numbers listed for contributions or other support.  The site was developed by Ed Denson, who has since become a practicing attorney. 
Click here to view the archived site
  in The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (

The 11/6/1997 News page about this case

This website is no longer updated, but this section with a compilation of the initial news stories about our case mostly still works. The site was developed by Mark Bult and other volunteers.

Headwaters Forest Earth First! (un-maintained since Fall 1997)

Although many links are broken on this un-maintained site, there is still much useful historical information here about the long struggle to preserve Headwaters Forest. 

About Headwaters Earth First! and Headwaters Forest

The History of Saving Headwaters Forest
Headwaters Forest was "discovered" and named by Earth First!er Greg King in 1987

Headwaters Earth First! Actions Guide
Many of the links on this page lead to photos of actions, including a Golden Gate Bridge 1996 banner hang, numerous logging road gate blockades and lockdowns, and backwoods recons and aerial flyovers.

Center for Ethics and Toxics (CETOS) 

CETOS, a project of the Tides Center, is a non-profit environmental group working on four interrelated issues: 1) Toxicity from chemical exposures, especially before and immediately after birth; 2) Deleterious impacts on agriculture and the environment and the genetic alterations of animals and plants, through the intensive application of pesticides; 3) Loss of endangered species caused by the destruction or contamination of habitat with pesticides and other toxic chemicals; 4) Protection of the genetic integrity of future generations.

See Preserving a Place to Land, an essay by CETOS Senior Associate Britt Bailey, M.A. about the ethics of blinding forest protesters with toxic chemicals. 

National Radio Project - Making Contact

Tantamount to Torture: Pepper Spray and Activism
The 30-minute Making Contact radio program for June 30, 1999, is an in-depth look at the use of pepper spray against activists. Our case is featured, and the audio includes sound from the police video of pepper spray torture. 

The program is no longer available from NRP, but you can listen to it from our Audio Page


More Information

Bay Area Independent Media Center Environmental & Forest Defense News 

Find current news stories on this case with a Google News search  

Searches for news stories containing the phrase "pepper spray" and Humboldt

Find Web pages containing the phrase "pepper spray" and Humboldt

General Web search not limited to news source websites. Over 1000 hits on 2/18/03

Find Web pages containing the phrase "pepper spray" and nonviolent

Produces a list relevant to our issue. Over 2000 hits as of 2/18/03.

Find Web pages containing the phrase "pepper spray" 

Warning: most of them will be vendors of pepper spray products. About 134,000 hits on 2/18/03. Our home page was in the top 100 sites by relevance.

Sixty Years Before Pepper Spray — The Holmes-Eureka Strike

Article by Dan Fortson on Humboldt County labor history.