Small business sues after USPS’ seizure of masks meant for Black Lives Matter protesters


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“The Fourth Amendment guarantees us the right to be secure in our papers and effects. That promise is illusory if postal officials can seize or search personal property without an individualized, articulable basis to believe that the property contains contraband or evidence of a crime,” the company stated in the lawsuit. “Worse yet would be if postal officials could seize or search personal property because of its political message.”

The company claimed in the lawsuit that packages were delayed by 48 hours. “That is no trivial matter,” the company stated. “They contained thousands of Covid-protective masks when the pandemic was raging and mass protests over police violence were happening every day.”

Movement Ink said in the lawsuit that the Postal Service caused the company to lose business relationships earned with more than a decade of “building community trust,” which cost them ”the opportunity to do substantial business not only with the recipients of the masks, but other existing and potential partners too.”

While the Postal Service didn’t respond initially to NBC News’ request for a statement, USPS said in a letter to Rep. Barbara Lee in June 2020 that the masks “were detained solely because the external physical characteristics of the parcels were consistent with parcels in other non-related instances that were confirmed to contain nonmailable matter, specifically controlled substances.”

Movement Ink said in the lawsuit that “neatly taped, nondescript brown boxes” were clearly labeled and included internal notes that said the boxes hold “BLM MASKS.”

“It is not clear whether Defendants knew that the packages contained — in Defendants’ words — ‘BLM MASKS’ before seizing the packages,” the mask producing company stated in its lawsuit. “If Defendants knew that the packages contained — in Defendants’ words — ‘BLM MASKS’ before seizing the packages, Defendants violated the First Amendment by seizing packages because of their political messages.”

Read the complete lawsuit below:





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