U.S. Postal Service Sued for Seizing Black Lives Matter Masks in 2020

A California screen printer has sued the United States Postal Service (USPS) for seizing shipments of face masks bearing Black Lives Matter slogans during 2020 protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.

The Institute of Justice law firm filed a lawsuit on June 1 on behalf of Movement Ink owner René Quiñonez, accusing USPS and U.S. Postal Inspection Service officials of violating constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment by seizing four boxes containing about 500 masks each without probable cause, a warrant, or “reasonable suspicion.”

The cloth masks bore slogans like “Stop killing Black people” and “Defund police,” and they were purchased by the Movement for Black Lives.

The boxes were meant to be shipped to Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, as well as to St. Louis, New York City, and to D.C. But instead of arriving at their destinations, they were labeled “Seized by law enforcement” on the USPS website without further explanation.

The seizure delayed the shipment for over 24 hours.

The lawsuit argued that the seizure harmed Quiñonez’s business, leaving him to lose customers and partners and struggling to recover from the blow to their reputation.

“When there’s an organization or a company that now has a reputation for being a target of law enforcement, people don’t want to do business with them,” Quiñonez told NBC News, which first obtained the lawsuit.

“Even the people that are like-minded, that know that there are fundamental flaws in the way that we address things, they need to protect their interests. So we lost business,” Quiñonez further said.

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