Okra seized by SWAT team

An anonymous tip was the basis for a warrant for a SWAT team to hold small farmers at gunpoint in handcuffs while the cops took their okra and tomatoes and code compliance officers mowed the grass. Is your grass mowed to code? If sometimes not, maybe you’ll agree police militarization has gone too far.

As Monika Diaz put it for WFAA on 12 August 2013, Owner irked after raid on Arlington’s ‘Garden of Eden’.

Shellie Smith, the owner of Arlington’s “Garden of Eden” says police and code enforcement agents “destroyed everything” in a raid on August 2, 2013.

You might be irked, too.

Radley Balko wrote for Huffpo Thursday, Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid,

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested — for outstanding traffic violations.

The farm posted The Fight for Our Rights- An Overview of the Situation and Issues at Hand:

Since February of 2013, the alleged City of Arlington has been engaged with the Garden of Eden in a dispute over city code violations on the small community’s land. The situation came to a boil on Friday, August 2nd of 2013 when an early morning SWAT raid was conducted by the Arlington Police at the Garden of Eden, during which the grass was cut and many trailers full of materials were removed from the premises by the City.

It’s not just that the SWAT team was there to mow the grass. According to the farmer, the city of Arlington had agreed beforehand not to take action against the farm about the citations, and the farmer had aplealed appealed to the sheriff to ensure that. Instead the sheriff raided the farm:

In her lawful notifications on record to the County Sheriff, Dee Anderson, Smith declared that her safety and property were being threatened unlawfully by the City and individuals in their official and individual capacity and that her family was in danger. She requested that the Sheriff intervene on her behalf to see that due process of law was followed. However the Sheriff did not respond nor did anyone from the Sheriff’s office.

According to established, lawful documentation filed with the Arlington Municipal Court, the City of Arlington has made prior agreement with the Inhabitants of the Garden of Eden that this issue was already resolved. There are multiple signed, bonafide documents on the record wherein the City agrees that they neither could nor would take action of any kind in the matter of the city code violations at the Garden of Eden.

Yet those agreements were disavowed then the City conducted their raid and forcibly took action to abate the alleged city code violations. Furthermore, due process of law was NOT followed in enforcing code compliance at the Garden of Eden. There was never any trial to bring evidence or give testimony before a judge and jury, as is every man and woman’s right under the law. Instead, several dozens of government employees, paid by the people, showed up unannounced, uninvited, raped the land and held captive every human present at gunpoint.

Hint: this is not marijuana.

Aa MSNnow put it, Texas cops can’t tell their tomatoes from their THC.

Ben Russell of NBCDFW.com Wednesday posted video including the pages of items seized recorded by the cops, “none of which was marijuana”.

“We had mass amounts of materials taken,” Eaker said. “If you saw the list, it’s pages and pages and pages of materials taken. That wasn’t junk. That wasn’t trash.”

According to the sheriff’s departement:

The handcuffs are standard procedure during the search of suspected narcotics operations, according to Sgt. Christopher Cook of the Arlington Police Department. Tactical officers assisted in the execution of the search warrants to secure the location so narcotics detectives could safely enter the property, police noted in a statement to NBC 5.

Got that? If you are merely suspected of a “narcotics” operation, a SWAT team can come to your house and handcuff you for the safety of “narcotics detectives”. Nevermind your family’s safety. Then the cops can take massive amounts of your possessions.

Why the suspicion?

In June, an anonymous source provided police with information that Eaker was growing marijuana in a garden that is surrounded by bamboo, the warrant states.

That’s right: an anonymous tip is enough to get you raided by a SWAT team.

Now this was Arlington, Texas. We can hope local law enforcement isn’t this stupid.

Why are cops anywhere still raiding anyone for marijuana? Aren’t we tired yet of paying to lock people up for victimless crimes while we supposedly can’t afford education?

-jsq

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  1. Pingback: Law enforcement in the Garden of Eden | Rural and Progressive

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