Two weeks ago today on Friday, August 2, inhabitants of The Garden of Eden, a small Intentional Community based on Sustainability, were awakened by a SWAT raid conducted by the City of Arlington for suspicion of being a full fledged marijuana growth and trafficking operation. Ultimately only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations, a handful of citations were given for city code violations, and zero drug related violations were found.
The entire operation lasted about 10 hours and involved many dozens of city officials, SWAT team, police officers and code compliance employees, and numerous official vehicles including dozens of police cars and several specialized vehicular equipment that was involved in the “abatement” operation. Witnesses say that there were helicopters and unmanned flying drones circling the property in the days prior to the raid that are presumed to have been a part of the intelligence gathering. The combined expenses for the raid itself and the collection of information leading up to the fruitless raid are estimated in the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
All 8 adults present in the house were initially handcuffed at the gunpoint of heavily armed SWAT officers, including the mother of a 22 month old and a two week old baby who was separated from her children during the raid. The police enforced activity on the day of the raid included mowing the grass, the forcible destruction of both wild and cultivated plants like blackberries, lamb’s quarters and okra, and the removal of other varied materials from around the premises such as pallets, tires and cardboard that the Community members say they had collected for use in sustainability projects. No marijuana or other drugs were found on site and the inhabitants of the premises were all unarmed.
The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes.
For example, other SWAT team raids have been conducted on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling unpasteurized milk products.
As long as we do nothing as individual citizens to stop these ridiculous affonts to our civil liberties, you can expect them to increase and worsen in intensity. Police Departments such as demonstrated by the one in Arlington Texas are like a junior Bruce Willis with a new toy. I wonder, for example, how many citizens of Arlington know their city government owns two drones? Yes taxpayer money was used to purchase drones! Yes, it was a federal grant, but that grant was supported with money that local citizens paid for with their federal taxes. Source: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/03/07/4668689/faa-approves-arlingtons-drones.html
What can people do? First of all, they can start standing up to these bullies by attending city council meetings, and demanding that these activities against local citizens end. Just because the leadership of a community does not agree with the lifestyle of a group of its citizens, does not give them the right to send in strom troopers to tear up their homes and property. Local is where all power begins--with you and your community.
It is absurd that in the city of Dallas we have over 300,000 children living below the level of poverty--enough to fill the Cowboy stadium more than twice--and local governments in the area are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on SWAT teams to harass local citizens and drones to spy on them. Absolutely absurd. These people need a lesson in how to set priorities.