Longstanding Berkeley Community Center Raided by FBI

More than a dozen computers seized in questionable search

*Berkeley, CA* — At 10:30 am on Wednesday, August 27th, the UC Berkeley police, plainclothes FBI agents, and an Alameda County sheriff raided at gunpoint the Long Haul, a long-standing community library and info shop. Police spent at least an hour and a half searching the premises without allowing Long Haul members entry to their building. More than a dozen computers and other equipment were seized in the morning raid. Having made no attempt to contact Long Haul members, agents forced their way into the building by entering a neighboring non-profit office with guns drawn. Police refused to provide a search warrant until after the raid was over and property was seized.

“This is an outrageous abuse of authority by the federal government,” said TKTK, a member of the Long Haul. “What cause could the police have to come into a community center like the Long Haul and seize information belonging to the people of Berkeley? They must return our property immediately.” The police went through every room, both public and locked – cutting or unscrewing the locks – and removed every computer from the building. Most of the computers taken were removed from an un-monitored public space where people come to use the computers just as they would at a public library. The remaining computers were taken from closed offices where they are needed for the day-to-day operation of the work done by members. Offices were rifled through, and a list of people who had borrowed books from the library was checked, as was the sales log. The warrant, which was produced after the raid, had little relevant information (claiming the officers were searching for 1 – Property or things used as a means of committing a felony; 2 – Property or things that are evidence that tends to show a felony has been committed, or tends to show that a particular person has committed a felony).

The Long Haul has been a community resource for 25 years, offering accessible meeting space to radical groups, access to alternative magazines and journals, a lending library and a historical archive of independent media. Long Haul also produces the well-known slingshot organizer pocket calendar. Multiple groups have met and continue to meet there as one of the few remaining inexpensive radical venues in the increasingly gentrified bay area. The same pattern of abuse was experienced recently when the convergence space for protesters against the Democratic National Convention in Denver was raided and supplies seized. Since the Long Haul raid occurred, lawyers have been working to seek the immediate return of the seized property, though the Long Haul continues to welcome legal support. The Long Haul is also in urgent need of computers to replace what was taken, while the fight continues to get the hard drives returned.

Long Haul members have vowed to protest this latest act of political repression. Check the Long Haul website (www.thelonghaul.org <http://www.thelonghaul.org/>) for more information as it becomes available.

Pictures and video of the Long Haul and of the officers involved are online at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/27/18530389.php <http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/08/27/18530389.php>

10 thoughts on “Longstanding Berkeley Community Center Raided by FBI

  1. This has been an abuse of the most egregious kind. Further proof that rights are really only privileges that the government allows its citizens. We at The Ungovernable support you and posted a story on our site about this incident, linking to your site so that people can learn more about what you do and find out ways to help. We are in full support.

  2. This is another example of pig scum and their cronies in the judiciary system subverting the rights of others.

    What a great example of “lol enforcement” and other government scum abusing the powers bestowed upon them by the rich…

    Or something like that!

    I hate cops.

    High school bullies in power. Nothing worse.
    If there is anything that we (not in the third person sense, but as in my friends and I) can do to help out let me know at the email I supplied.

  3. The police were way off base on three counts:

    1) The warrant did not even come close to the Constitutional standard of ‘particularly describing… the persons or things to be seized’, and people need to speak out publicly about the judge who violated his oath by signing it.

    2) The police are supposed to show the warrant before entering the premises.

    3) The police should always offer the owner/occupant the option to unlock doors or files rather than damaging them.

    That being said, I think the Long Haul should re-examine its policies and procedures in two areas. They shouldn’t have to take these steps, but it’s only a reasonable precaution to protect the people who come there:

    + They should not retain records of people and the books that they borrowed and purchased, with records of books borrowed are deleted when the book is returned — most libraries and bookstores stopped doing this shortly after the USA PATRIOT Act was passed.

    + They should have public computers set so they don’t keep history files of places people visit.


  4. Two things:

    First, the main web page does not give a physical address I can find. If there is one, it’s not prominent, so please correct that.

    Second, I wish the web page would tell me what the cops were looking for. The search warrants must have had SOME description of what was wanted, and have a signature from a judge. The evidence the judge used to issue the warrants would also be interesting to me. And the name of the judge, particularly if the search warrant was sketchy, and should not have been issued.

    If they are trying to shut the place down, is it because there is dirt they want to supprress?

    I just need more info. to go anywhere with this. I might be able to donate a computer if it’s needed but please give more info.

  5. the warrant was completely vague. the language it used is verbatim in the above announcement.
    the judge who signed it was judge ford. there was no information in the warrant about what evidence it was based on.

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