[San Francisco Chronicle - comments at full story link]
An activist group in Berkeley sued the University of California and law enforcement agencies Wednesday over an August raid in which officers trying to trace alleged threats by animal-rights advocates broke into the group's offices and seized its computers and records.
The searches of Long Haul and East Bay Prisoner Support, an unaffiliated organization in one of the offices, were illegal intrusions on groups that were not suspected of any wrongdoing and also violated their constitutional rights as publishers of their own newspapers, said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
The suit says the officers broke open locked doors and cabinets, seized all 14 computers in the building, combed through library and bookstore records, and took computer drives and other items from both Long Haul and East Bay Prisoner Support. The computers were later returned, but the organizations have reason to believe their files were copied, the suit said.
"The police should have treated us with the same respect due to any library whose public-access computers they suspected had been used for improper activity," said Jessy Palmer, a Long Haul volunteer named in the detective's affidavit as the subscriber to the computer where the messages were sent. "Instead of asking for our assistance, they used their investigation as an excuse to break into Long Haul."