Texas Cops Use Paramilitary Tactics to Enforce Code Violations
By Jerry A. Kane
Police from Arlington, Texas, conducted an early-morning raid at the Garden of Eden organic farm that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team, and a 10-hour search.
The police held 8 residents at gunpoint while they looked for marijuana plants; so when they didn’t find any, they seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants, numerous native grasses and sunflowers … [and] material for building projects” instead. Police also confiscated over two tons of materials, including compost, wooden pallets, furniture, and 24 tires filled with stagnant water.
“They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation. They destroyed everything.”—Shellie Smith, Garden of Eden owner
The reason for the massive police action was code violations, such as “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.”
“The purpose was to improve the quality of life, to resolve life safety issues within neighborhoods and to hold the property owner responsible for creating blight conditions on their property.”—Sana Syed, City of Arlington spokeswoman
Arlington police say the raid was conducted with dignity, professionalism, and respect. According to Sgt. Chris Cook, the residents were handcuffed for about 30 minutes and SWAT cleared the scene in 45 minutes.
Garden of Eden resident Quinn Eaker disputes Cook’s account. According to Eaker, eight adult residents were handcuffed and detained for hours during the raid.
“I think every single right we have was violated. Every single one.”—Quinn Eaker, Garden of Eden resident
Eaker, the only resident arrested by police, was detained for outstanding traffic violations.
Overkill has become commonplace in recent years for police departments. SWAT teams have been used to conduct alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Virginia; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Connecticut; to inspect licenses at barbershops in Orlando, Florida; and to raid a homosexual bar for suspected public sex acts in Atlanta, Georgia.
Police have also conducted paramilitary raids on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling raw milk products.
They used to grow food in Kansas
Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw
I can see the day coming when even your home garden
Is gonna be against the law.
For more on the story, see “Owner irked after raid on Arlington’s ‘Garden of Eden,’” “Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid,” and “The Fight for Our Rights- An Overview of the Situation and Issues at Hand.”
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