On the morning of Aug. 27, UC Berkeley campus police raided the Long Haul Infoshop on Shattuck Ave. in South Berkeley, breaking down the door and confiscating all computers on the premises. Computers taken included those used by East Bay Prisoner Support and the collective that publishes the Slingshot newspaper. Police also broke into cabinets, cut locks, and went through mail. A statement from the Long Haul claimed Alameda County deputies and FBI agents were also involved in the raid.
Activists arrived after being informed of the situation, and demanded the police show a warrant. The police said they would show one when they were done, and they did. Officers reportedly stated that the computer equipment “may have been used to commit a felony.” No arrests were made at the time of the raid. This is the first time there has been a raid since the infoshop opened 15 years ago.
The campus-based Berkeley Daily Planet says that the search warrant obtained by UC Berkeley Police Detective Bill Kasiske indicated officers believed the computers contained evidence of felonies. The document did not describe the alleged crimes nor did it name any perpetrators. In addition to computers and data storage media, the warrant targeted all written, typed or electronic documents of those who used the computers. When the raid was over, only monitors, keyboards and disconnected cables were left.
The Long Haul is is used by several activist groups, including a community Internet-access space, the bicycling advocacy organization Cycles of Change, the Anarchist Study Group, a needle-exchange program and medical marijuana buyers’ club. Civil rights attorney James B. Chanin, who has an office in the block to the north, said he was surprised by the warrant, since it didn’t identify any specific organization. “I can’t imagine the judge knew that the building housed many different organizations,” he said. “It would shock me if the judge knew that.” Chanin said that a warrant that targeted a specific group wouldn’t allow police “to go into a building and take everybody’s stuff. But that’s what I believe happened, and that’s not right.”
Ian Winters, executive director of the Northern California Land Trust and Long Haul’s landlord, said the raid was the first in his memory, “and we never had any problems even while Long Hail had the marijuana club here.”
Soul, a broadcaster on Berkeley Liberation Radio, said the micro-transmitter station had been impacted by the raid. “We had some of our stuff there,” she said. “They got our hard drive, and that really concerns us.” She also pointed to a Feb. 17, 2004 Berkeley City Council resolution urging federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to refrain from taking any action to interfere with Berkeley Liberation Radio.
Some speculated that the raid may be linked to animal rights activism. The UC chancellors recently signed a joint letter deploring attacks on researchers who conduct animal experimentation in the wake of two Aug. 2 firebomb attacks aimed at UC Santa Cruz researchers. Berkeley researchers have also been targeted by protesters, including confrontations at their homes and vandalism. (Indybay, Berkeley Daily Planet, Long Haul statement, Aug. 27)