Radical Library/Publisher and Prison Support Group Settle Lawsuit with FBI and UC-Berkeley Police over Improper Raid

Agencies Agree to Pay Damages, Delete Seized Data

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Contact:
Matt Zimmerman
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
mattz@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x127
Hanni Fakhoury
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
hanni@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x117
 

Radical Library/Publisher and Prison Support Group Settle Lawsuit with FBI and UC-Berkeley Police over Improper Raid

Agencies Agree to Pay Damages, Delete Seized Data


Berkeley, CA – Two radical groups have settled their
lawsuits over an armed, over-broad police raid after the
law enforcement agencies agreed to delete improperly seized
computer data and pay $100,000 in damages and attorney’s
fees.  Moreover, the University of California-Berkeley
Police Department (UCBPD) acknowledged that at the time of
the raid one of the groups qualified for federal
protections designed to protect journalists, publishers,
and other distributors of information from police searches,
despite the police’s persistent denial of that status
throughout the lawsuit.
UCBPD and the FBI raided the building housing the Long
Haul, an alternative library, Infoshop and community center
in Berkeley, in August of 2008 as part of an investigation
into e-mail threats sent to UC animal researchers that
allegedly came from public-access computers in the
building.  Agents conducted an armed search of both public
and private rooms – cutting or unscrewing locks that
protected private offices – and removed every computer from
the building.  The raid team seized clearly unrelated
computers from behind the locked doors of the Slingshot
collective, a division of Long Haul that has published the
Slingshot newspaper for 24 years as well as the Slingshot
Organizer, and from the office of East Bay Prisoner Support
(EBPS), which published materials about prisoners’
struggles.  However, the federal Privacy Protection Act
specifically protects publishers from search and seizure
except in narrow, unrelated circumstances.  The Long Haul
and EBPS collectively filed suit and were represented by
the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU of
Northern California.
As part of today’s settlement, the UCPD:
* Conceded that it has no information that either the Long
Haul or EBPS was connected with the e-mail threats;
* Acknowledged that the Long Haul was at the time of the raid
a publisher protected by the Privacy Protection Act,
designed to prevent against such searches; and
* Agreed to expand the scope and coverage of improved training
regarding the provisions of the Privacy Protection Act that
were first imposed in the wake of the 2008 raid.
Both the UCPD and the FBI also agreed to:
* Destroy the data they seized as part of the raid; and
* Pay a total of $100,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees
caused by the raid.
“We hope that in view of this lawsuit and this favorable
settlement, law enforcement will think twice before they
raid other radical spaces on flimsy pretenses,” said Jesse
Palmer, a long-time participant in Long Haul operations.
“The raid was an abuse of power.  The police refused to
show Long Haul representatives a copy of the search
warrant, prevented anyone from watching what they were
taking during the raid, and preferred to cut locks rather
than accept our offer to unlock doors. The raid was a
fishing expedition and an attempt to intimidate and harass
radicals undertaken by the FBI and UCPD, but as the
settlement demonstrates, it was the police who broke the
law. We’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I have no faith that this agreement will change the
attitudes or behaviors of the UC police or the FBI,” said
EBPS representative Patrick Lyons.  “From kicking in our
door and stealing our stuff, to the now-infamous UC Davis
pepper spray incident, it is clear that the UC cops are at
war with radicals, anarchists, and activists, and that will
not change.  I do, however, think that it is important that
when they attack us, we fight back.  I sincerely appreciate
the hard work of EFF and the ACLU because in this situation
our best weapon was our ability to make the UC police and
FBI spend huge amounts of money defending their actions and
concealing their agenda.”
Long Haul and EBPS plan to donate $500 of their portion of
the settlement to the Occupy Oakland Anti-Repression
Committee to assist others targeted by the police for their
political beliefs.
The Long Haul is an all-volunteer collective that operates
a community space with free computer access, a historical
archive, and a lending library of radical books to members
of the public at its Infoshop in Berkeley, California.
They have been at their current location since 1979 and
have been a 501(c)(3) tax exempt educational organization
since 1994.  EBPS publishes a newsletter of prisoners’
writings and distributes literature to prisoners.
For the full settlement agreement:
https://www.eff.org/document/settlement-agreement-0
For this release:
https://www.eff.org/press/releases/radical-librarypublisher-and-prison-support-group-settle-lawsuit-fbi-and-uc-berkeley
About EFF
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at https://www.eff.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *