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University threatened with lawsuit over MLK Day bridge protest

Last Monday, protesters attempted to block the San Mateo-Hayward bridge for 28 minutes. California Highway Patrol arrested 68 demonstrators.(CALEB SMITH/The Stanford Daily)

The University received an email shortly after the Silicon Shutdown protest on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, “expressing concern and threatening to file a lawsuit,” according to an email to The Daily from Brad Hayward, senior director of strategic communications for the University.

The protest took place on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, blocking traffic.

According to a source familiar with the content of the email, the email was written by a member of a family that was on the bridge at the time. A 3-year-old girl was allegedly experiencing medical distress, and the protest blocked the family’s route to the hospital.

At publication time, the University had not been served with any such lawsuit.

University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin wrote in an email to The Daily that the University had also received other complaints from motorists and the general public regarding the protest.

“The protest was not a University sanctioned event, and the Silicon Shutdown group is not a University organization or recognized student group,” Lapin wrote. “The case of the Silicon Shutdown participants is a matter being investigated and prosecuted by the CHP and the San Mateo County District Attorney.”

The ASSU stated that it has also not been served with any such lawsuit.

“[T]he ASSU is not currently facing any litigation at the moment,” wrote Frederik Groce ’14, the ASSU Financial Manager, in an email to The Daily.

petition circulated around campus recently in support of the Silicon Shutdown protesters who had previously been arrested on misdemeanor charges the day of the protest.

In an email to The Daily, Silicon Shutdown organizers wrote that the petition had not been circulated by their organization.

“We know of no additional charges filed against any of those arrested in the #ReclaimMLK action,” they wrote. They added that they believe the part of the petition that expresses support for the protesters because “they are currently facing legal charges” references the day-of-protest arrests.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the letter was written by an attorney on behalf of the family. The letter was written by a family member.

Andrew Vogeley contributed to this report.

Contact Alice Phillips at alicep1 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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