Activist Spied On? Man Wins Settlement

Anyone who knows anything about Evergreen State College in Washington knows that there is nowhere in the world with a higher concentration of young hippies.  Apparently, the state police went for the easy meat and got more than they bargained for.  The Seattle Times reports:

from Derek Redmon at Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Derek Redmon (CC)

A 22-year-old anti-war activist from The Evergreen State College will get $169,000 as part of a settlement with the State Patrol and two other law-enforcement agencies over allegations that their officers engaged in political spying and harassment.

Philip Chinn was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving by state patrol troopers in May 2007, while traveling to an anti-war protest at the Port of Grays Harbor in Aberdeen.

According to court documents, Chinn was pulled over after police had broadcast an “attempt to locate” his car, which was described as containing “three known anarchists.”

The criminal charge was dismissed after tests showed Chinn had no alcohol or drugs in his system. Chinn sued last year, alleging false arrest and violations of his right to free speech.

The State Patrol has agreed to pay Chinn $109,000, and the city of Aberdeen and Grays Harbor County each will pay $30,000 toward the settlement. The three agencies have also agreed to pay his lawyer’s fees, which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates at more than $375,000.

The ACLU took up Chinn’s cause because it believes the case and other allegations suggest that spying on dissidents by local enforcement, at the behest of the military, “appears to be far more pervasive than we had thought,” said ACLU spokesman Doug Honig.

A spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord says the military did not provide any intelligence to law enforcement in the Chinn case.

In the spring of 2007, Chinn was a student at Evergreen and was involved in protesting the use of civilian ports for military purposes, according to one of his attorneys, Lawrence Hildes. Materiel intended for Iraq was being moved through the ports at Aberdeen, Olympia and elsewhere, and there had been a number of public protests.

[Read more at the Seattle Times]

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