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Update on Sacramento

Well, this is interesting … after I posted the entry about the run-in, lawsuit, and subsequent legal settlement between Aerojet plant security and some Sacramento, California hashers (two entries below, or click here), a confidential informant emailed me a PDF copy of the actual lawsuit filed by five Sacramento H3 members against Aerojet.

I’m reluctant to include the entire document here, since it contains the real names of hashers and other parties involved, but I will include parts of it (edited to remove names), because it’ll give you a much clearer picture of what went on that evening.

It’s not a pretty picture, and I think that after you read these excerpts you’ll agree with me that Aerojet’s security people grossly abused their authority, probably for prurient purposes.

You’ll also see that the plaintiffs … the five Sacramento H3 members … had a righteous case.  Unfortunately, since the out-of-court settlement (which apparently went in favor of the hashers) prohibits involved parties from talking about it, we may never know more than what’s revealed in this court document:

THE MAY 16, 2007 RUN

15. On May 16, 2007, at about 6:30 p.m., more than twenty people assembled near the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to begin a Hashing run. Many members parked their cars in the Nimbus Fish Hatchery parking lot and, as many runners do, left their keys and identification in their parked vehicles.
16. The two leaders (“Leaders”) in the run had a bag of flour. They used the flour to mark the trail followed by the other members of the Group.
17. The Leaders began their run by following a bicycle path until they came across a bicycle triathlon organization doing time trial rides. The Leaders (marking the trail as they ran) left the bike path to run along a dirt fire road.
18. To access the fire road the Leaders, and later, the other Runners, crossed a low animal fence. Neither the fence nor the property was posted, nor did the Runners have any reason to believe or understand that they were on Aerojet or private property.
19. The Runner’s ran along well established paths. For more than a mile, the Leaders laid a trail, dropping double handfuls of flour to mark the path for the following Runners. After about two miles, the Leaders encountered a large fence to which they ran parallel.


20. The Leaders were stopped by a man identifying himself as Aerojet security. The security officer issued directions to the Leaders to proceed around the large fence onto a paved rood. The Leaders complied with the security guard’s request. The Leaders identified themselves for the security guard. The Leaders also explained to the guard what they were doing and that they were lost. The Leaders also informed the guard that other Runners were behind them, following a trail the Leaders marked with the flour.
21. The Leaders’ story was corroborated by the fact that they were carrying a clearly marked flour bag. The flour bag was in a grocery store shopping bag with the receipt for its purchase.
22. The Leaders’ explanation of their activity was further corroborated by the arrival of the other Runners who had followed the flour trail left by the Leaders. Approximately fourteen Runners, including a dog, had caught up with the Leaders.
23. The Aerojet security guard’s supervisor, defendant [Aerojet security guard supervisor's name], soon arrived. The Leaders again explained who they were and what they were doing. One of the Leaders, [hasher's name], also identified himself as a National Guard member.
24. The Runners were told that their names would be taken and that they would be escorted off Aerojet property.
25. [Aerojet security guard supervisor's name] told the Runners that he was going to err on the side of caution and that he would call the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. He instructed the entire group of Runners to sit on the road with the Leaders. All of the Runners complied with Aerojet’s security staff’s directions and sat on the road. [Aerojet security guard supervisor's name] told one of Aerojet’s security guards to put the Runner’s under “citizen’s arrest” and instructed the guard to handcuff them. One of Aerojet’s security officers told [Aerojet security guard supervisor's name] that he was not going to handcuff the Runners.
26. Some of the Runners who were further back in the run, saw the assembly of vehicles and Runners as they approached the location where the Leaders and other runners were being retained by Aerojet Security, and turned around and returned to the start of the run. Aerojet undertook no efforts to pursue, detain, or identify those individuals.
27. At approximately 7:30 p.m., while waiting for the arrival of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, defendant [Aerojet fire chief's name] arrived at the scene and identified himself as the Aerojet Fire Chief.
28. Notwithstanding the fact that the Runners were dressed in running attire, the bag of flour was plainly marked as baking flour and was in a grocery shopping bag complete with the purchase receipt, and that fourteen of the Runners had followed a flour trail left by the Leaders, [Aerojet fire chief's name], determined that the flour was an “unknown white powder” which constituted a hazardous material.
29. To demonstrate to [Aerojet fire chief's name] and the rest of Aerojet’s security staff that their assessment of the situation was unreasonable, one of the Runners took several fingers full of flour from the bag and ate it. Ostensibly, this gesture did not convince Aerojet’s security staff.


30. The Runners (and the Leaders and all other Runners detained by Defendants) were corralled into a contained area and after several hours of waiting, Aerojet assembled a “hazardous materials response team.” The detained group (including the Runners) consisted of ten men, four women and one dog. The Aerojet team laughed and joked as they prepared for the hazardous material response. Aerojet employees freely walked in and out of the “hot zone” where the alleged decontamination was taking place.
31. The Runners were required to strip their clothing and were photographed im that condition. One Runner told an Aerojet Security guard that he did not want to take his clothes off in front of the women Runners. The guard told him that he did not have a choice in the matter.
32. The Runners were asked to walk through a footbath, doused in cold water, and were all rubbed with the same brushes, all while Aerojet employees or agents freely walked in and out of the allegedly contaminated area.
33. Although two security guards were “decontaminated,” [Aerojet fire chief's name] was not, nor were the other Aerojet employees who had contact with the flour.
34. One male Runner and one female Runner were photographed nude. Several others were photographed semi nude. Several of the women Runners were photographed bare breasted, in plain sight of male Aerojet employees and the other Runners.
35. Some of the Runners’ personal belongings, including cell phones, car keys, house keys, shoes, socks, running gear and under clothing was confiscated by Aerojet.
36. After the alleged “decontamination,” the Runners were handed one-piece paper suits, escorted by Aerojet personnel to Sacramento County Sheriff vehicles and driven off the property.
37. When the Runners were permitted to leave, Aerojet retained the Runners’ car keys, house keys and cell phones. This caused some of the released Runners to break into their own vehicles or homes. Some of the Runners were not able to return home until after 2a.m.
38. Aerojet continued to retain possession of the Runners’ personal property the next day May 17, 2007.
39. One of the Leaders, [hasher's name] (an active duty National Guard officer) arrived at Aerojet on May 1 7, 2007 to recover the Runners’ personal property. Aerojet security told [hasher's name] to call [Aerojet fire chief's name] from within the Aerojet visitor center. When [Aerojet fire chief's name] informed [hasher's name] on the telephone that he was unable to find a lab willing to test the “substance,” [hasher's name] asked to see a security supervisor.
40. [member of Aerojet security staff's name], a member of Aerojet’s security staff, met with [hasher's name]. [hasher's name] informed [member of Aerojet security staff's name] that he was going to report the illegal retention of the property by Aerojet to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. [member of Aerojet security staff's name] asked [hasher's name] to wait so that he could confer with his supervisor.
41. Aerojet then contacted [hasher's name] military superior, [hasher's military superior's name]. [hasher's military superior's name] informed Aerojet security that he believed [hasher's name] characterization of the flour as flour, and that testing was unnecessary. However, because Aerojet insisted that the “substance” be tested, [hasher's military superior's name] activated the National Guard civil support team from Hayward, California to test the “substance.” That testing confirmed that the “substance” was flour.
42. There was no reason for Aerojet, any of its security officers, or any other person affiliated with Aerojet, to consider the Runners as a security threat. Upon inquiry from the security officers, they all identified themselves, and were all plainly dressed for running. The second pack of fourteen runners had obviously followed the Leaders. No arrests were made, nor were any charges ever filed by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. To date, Aerojet has pursued no charges or claims against any of the Runners.

Disturbingly, the newspaper reporter I quoted in my original post said that the incident and the resulting lawsuit drove Sacramento H3 membership sharply downward, to the point where “just five or six people” show up to Sacramento H3 events today.

By way of confirmation, my confidential correspondent, the hasher who sent me the court document quoted above, said this: “… after the incident … those involved quickly got quiet and took all conversation off the web page … it was bad for the sacto hash with the feeling of spys in our midst and general paranoia.”

Other hashes have had similar run-ins with overzealous authority (I’m thinking about New Haven H3 Ikea parking lot incident and last year’s witch hunts in San Diego), but hash membership was not affected to the extent reported in the Sacramento case. I’m wondering why this incident scared off so many hashers, especially since it appears the hashers did nothing wrong.  I’m trying to get the lowdown on that, and will post more information as I get it.

© 2011, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.

About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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