The Daily Californian Online

Affidavit Discloses Reason for UCPD Raid

By Vincent Quan
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Category: News > City > Courts

While investigations into a community center's seized computers continue, a UCPD affidavit sheds light on why campus police raided the cooperative in the first place.

On Aug. 27, UCPD and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided the Long Haul Infoshop, a community cooperative where social activists often gather, seizing 15 computers and various flash memory drives, memory cards and CDs.

According to the affidavit, nine UC Berkeley faculty members received threatening e-mails over their animal research throughout March. The professors belonged to departments ranging from electrical engineering and computer sciences to molecular and cell biology.

A string of six e-mails followed on June 14, this time directed only at one professor.

"do you think that im fucking around you waste of life i know where you work where you live where you shop even i know your credit card number and even what netflix movies you watch," the anonymous e-mail stated, according to the affidavit. It went on to say, "STOP TORTURING ANIMALS OR THINGS GET UGLY."

Upon receiving a different set of e-mails, a UC Berkeley professor said she contacted campus police immediately. She added that the threatening e-mails were a recent phenomenon, but could not explain what might have caused them.

"I find this all very difficult to understand," said the professor, who was granted anonymity to speak about the threats. "It's not affected my research. It's just affected my quality of life."

Though he said he was not familiar with the case, constitutional law professor Daniel Farber said courts are likely to deem something a threat if there were past incidents of harassment.

"It needs to be something that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear of attack, and it has to be directed at that person," Farber said.

The e-mails, sent from accounts referencing the professors' names, were traced back to an IP address in the infoshop, according to the affidavit.

"A search of the Long Haul's premises could reveal logs or sign-in sheets indicating which patrons used the computers on particular dates," the affidavit stated. "This information would aid in identifying the suspect who sent the threatening e-mail using the Long Haul's computers."

While most of the confiscated computers were located in a public Internet access room, the shop does not maintain log records, according to Kathryn Miller, a manager of the shop.

"(If) Homeland Security or whoever comes in is asking for information on people using our computers, we hold the same line that public libraries take in the free speech issue," said Dominique Alta, a volunteer at the center.

Several computers designated for private use were also seized, including two computers used by the local Slingshot newspaper, one computer used by East Bay Prisoner Support and one used by Cycles of Change, Alta said.

Jim Chanin, a civil rights attorney whose office is located down the block from the shop, said there was no logical reason behind the seizure of the private-use computers.

"It would be like if you ran a Kinko's or an Internet cafe and then they came in and didn't just do the common computers-they did your computer and all your business's computers," he said.

UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya declined to comment on the affidavit, only saying that campus police are still waiting for a forensics team to analyze the content of the confiscated items.

But Jason Schultz, the acting director of the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic said he saw no reason for the computers not to be returned in a timely fashion.

"I know the first thing is that they would make copies of the hard drives," he said. "They would have maintained the proper evidence and the computers would have been returned."

Alta declined to comment on whether or not the cooperative will pursue legal action, only saying, "We are working with various lawyers in trying to decide what the best thing to do would be."

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