Infoshop beats FBI court motion – trial set: May, 2011

The Long Haul community space in Berkeley beat a government motion to dismiss its federal lawsuit November 30, 2009 meaning that the government defendants have to answer the lawsuit and a trial is now scheduled for May 16, 2011. Long Haul filed suit a year ago against all law enforcement involved in an August 27, 2008 police raid on the space by a joint terrorism task force composed of University of California police, sheriffs and the FBI. The police seized all computers at Long Haul after breaking in with guns drawn to execute a search warrant as part of an investigation of threatening emails allegedly sent to UC Berkeley animal researchers from a public-access computer connected to the internet at Long Haul.

Long Haul is a non-profit organization that publishes Slingshot and operates an infoshop and library at 3124 Shattuck in Berkeley. It is clear that the police never would have gotten such a broad search warrant to seize every computer at the Berkeley Public Library if the email in question had come from the public library, rather than at a radical Infoshop. While the police perhaps intended their raid to intimidate local activists, Long Haul was able to reopen the night of the raid. The public-access computer room reopened a month later with new (used) donated computers. The police searched and copied hard drives from the seized computers.

The lawsuit, filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of Northern California, seeks relief against law enforcement using the data from the seized computers for improper purposes. While the legal process has so far moved very slowly, the struggle goes on to push back against big brother police tactics against activist spaces.