I got an email from a very close friend this morning, who said, "This happened in our back yard. What a crock!", and provided a link to the news story.
The owners of a small organic farm in south Arlington are demanding an apology from police who raided the property in early August in search of marijuana and found no drugs.I hope you will keep reading...
Eaker told NBC 5 him and the other five adults who live at the farm...were handcuffed when SWAT officers from the Arlington Police Department came to their home with weapons drawn.
Officers mowed the grass on the property, and removed wild, cultivated plants including blackberries and okra, as well as other items including pallets, tires and cardboard that the members said they used for their sustainability projects.
On July 30, a Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft conducted aerial surveillance .. the plants inside appeared to be consistent with marijuana, police state in the warrant.
Eaker said that the plants police mistook to be marijuana were likely tomatoes.
Many years ago, my friend purchased several acres outside the city limits, and built a house on it. In the intervening years, the city limits have crept out towards her, and she has been "assimilated". She has some pretty bad health risks that run in her family, like Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes, and so she has done a great deal of study on how to prevent these types of illnesses. This has led her to learn more about diet, and how modern food production methods has affected our nutrition. She has planted some raised beds, and has been planning to start raising chickens. We buy fresh honey from a fellow coworker who is a beekeeper. She makes a trip every few weeks to purchase raw milk, and eggs fresh from the farm. I have learned a great deal from my discussions with her, and can point to changes in my life, arising from those discussions that have directly improved my health.
So, as she herself is interested in a more sustainable lifestyle, she had great sympathy for what happened to her close neighbor, who committed the inexcusable crime of living off her land.
Imagine, a SWAT team bursting into your home with guns drawn, and placing handcuffs on you. It must be a terrifying experience. Your instinct, when you are attacked by men with guns, is to turn to the police for help. But, where do you turn to for help, when the people attacking you in your own home are the police?
With all of that said, I should mention that we do have a problem with West Nile Virus in this area, and standing water is an issue. Officials did visit the farm earlier, and speak to the owners about code violations. The owners refused, on the grounds that the items on their property were not trash, but were materials used in sustainable farming projects. The problem is that this should have been a civil dispute, that could have been resolved in the courts. These were not armed and dangerous people. They were farmers. There was no need for a SWAT team. They could have been defeated by a simple process of paperwork without a single armed gunman.
There is some debate as to whether the accusations of marijuana were trumped up in order to punish the farmers for the real problem -- the fact that the sustainable farming activities, as carried out by the landowner, were viewed as trashy and detrimental to property values.
An obvious solution to preventing dangerous incidents of this nature is to eliminate the excuse used by police to invade this person's land. Eliminate the laws that give police the power to invade your home over what they will and will not allow you to grow on your own land. Then, the police will have no excuse to send a swat team to your door, possibly when your young children are at home, because they mistook your tomato plant for a MJ plant.
If you think this is an exaggeration, consider the couple who were pulled over by police, because police didn't like their bumper sticker. It was an "Ohio Buckeye" bumper sticker, but police thought it looked too much like pot. We don't need your stinkin' Free Speech.
It is time for us to ask ourselves if the authoritarian government, complete with SWAT teams armed with mankiller weapons, are as much of a risk to our lives, or moreso, than the drugs that they purport to "protect" us from.
DailyKOS member dsnodgrass has published a series of diaries about the experiences of their autistic son with our hyped up militaristic police forces, who used the excuse of The Drug War for the abuses perpetrated on their family, and many other children in their school. The story raises questions about the best welfare of children, and whether the risks imposed on children by arrest and imprisonment might actually be greater than the risks of an occasional joint. And, of course, it raises the questions about whether these brutal authoritarian methods are actually effective at protecting our kids from drugs.
I think the answer is clear. NO. Clearly this is not working.
This has got to stop. We need to eliminate the laws that are being used as an excuse for these military assaults on civilians, and to de-fund the governmental entities that are driving these attacks on citizens.
It's time for a change.