Marauding SWAT Team Looks for Weed, Scores Organic Tomatoes and Scared Farmers

TomatoesBrücke-OsteuropaI take a back seat to nobody when it comes to enthusiasm for excellent tomatoes. I'll screech to a halt in front of a farm stand to score heirlooms for a batch of gazpacho. But, unlike police in Arlington, Texas,  I absolutely draw the line at kicking in doors with guns drawn just so I can get a pot of sauce simmering. Then again, the enthusiastic local constabulary knew so little about tomato plants that they mistook them for marijuana. Which, as we all know, is an herbal threat to the republic requiring the most brutal armed suppression. More disturbing, the SWAT raid seems to really have its roots in a dispute over ... petty code violations.

Reports Ben Russell at NBCDFW:

The owners of a small organic farm in South Arlington are demanding an apology from police who raided the property in early August in what amounted to be a fruitless search for marijuana.

Arlington police and city Code Enforcement officers raided the Garden of Eden, a 3.5-acre farm on the 7300 block of Mansfield Cardinal Road on the morning of Aug. 2. Police were searching for marijuana in the gardens, according to search warrants obtained by NBC 5.

Code compliance officers found several reported code violations, but police did not any drugs.

"We live a very peaceful life here,” said 30-year-old Quinn Eaker, a resident of the farm, who was arrested during the raid for an unrelated, outstanding warrant over unpaid parking tickets. “We've never hurt anybody. This is our land. We have the right to be secure in our person and our property. Period. That's undebatable."

Eaker told NBC 5 that the six adults who live at the farm - what they describe as a community that has come together with the common values of freedom, sustainability and consciousness - were handcuffed when SWAT officers from the Arlington Police Department came to their home with weapons drawn.

The video report (which I can't get to embed properly, so check it at the NBCDFW site) shows Eaker and company as apparent modern live-off-the-land hippies of just the sort to rub the average cop the wrong way. The Garden of Eden farm also has a running disagreement with local authorities about "code violations" which appear to be the sort of transgressions you'd expect of people who collect and store materials for re-use and capture rain water in barrels. The farm says, "[c]itations were initially issued for 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."

Eaker and company are also pretty savvy on camera, and on the Web, where they've published their own take on events:

At around seven thirty last Friday morning, 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.

Claims about the use of aircraft are supported by the NBCDFW report, which says, "On July 30, a Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft conducted aerial surveillance of the Garden of Eden property, according to the warrant."

The Garden of Eden insists its members trimmed the bushes mentioned in the citation, but declined to address other issues becase they "are seen by the community members as a private matter of preference, since it is taking place entirely within the confines of their private land and has no effect on anyone."

SWATU.S. GovernmentThat's a perfectly reasonable position from a personal freedom perspective, as is owner Shellie Smith's position that "she is entitled to inalienable rights, granted by her creator, as all men and women are. Unless she has made a contract by a signed written agreement with another party, be it a man, a company or a government agency, or unless she has caused damage to a person or their property, no one shall have power over her."

Government officials tend to disagree, of course, and butt in wherever they can. That raises the very real likelihood that a lingering disagreement over petty code violations turned into a thorn in the side of local officials ticked off that somebody had the nerve to defy them. Expensive aircraft surveillance was then called upon because, damnit, hippies must be growing pot. And marijuana plants are always worthy of a SWAT raid.

Except ... They weren't. A fully armed paramilitary team found itself ridding the world of the dread menace of garden-fresh tomatoes because local gauleiters were pissed about unstacked firewood. The excessive, expensive and potentially lethal tools of the war on drugs were very likely invoked for the pettiest of reasons.

If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if you're a government official with aircraft and SWAT teams, everything starts looking like a marijuana plant. If you want it to, anyway.

Update: Scott Shackford also wrote about this raid.

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  • anon||

    "are seen by the community members as a private matter of preference, since it is taking place entirely within the confines of their private land and has no effect on anyone."

    And that, my friends, was their mistake.

  • CE||

    ...chopped wood that was not properly stacked...

    OMG. They had firewood strewn carelessly about? Send in the SWAT team!

    Get that stuff in a proper rick, pronto!

  • SomeGuy||

    shit than my farm is probably in trouble...we have wood and crap everywhere. We burn like a bobcat bucket load a day in winter if not more....it is a 150 year old house and all. I hope they don't show up here -_-

  • JW||

    "she is entitled to inalienable rights, granted by her creator, as all men and women are. Unless she has made a contract by a signed written agreement with another party, be it a man, a company or a government agency, or unless she has caused damage to a person or their property, no one shall have power over her."

    Is this your signature on the SOCIAL CONTRACT?

  • ||

    No, because not a single one of us has ever signed the "social contract". It's the great lie.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    You're wrong Epi. That's what they put your foot stamp on when you're born.

  • anon||

    Claims about the use of aircraft are supported by the NBCDFW report, which says, "On July 30, a Texas Department of Public Safety aircraft conducted aerial surveillance of the Garden of Eden property, according to the warrant."

    Read: We were gonna drone them, but we had some new guns we were gonna try out.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The owners of a small organic farm in South Arlington are demanding an apology from police who raided the property in early August in what amounted to be a fruitless search for marijuana.

    So they didn't take the tomatoes?

  • Dweebston||

    +1 $5 artisinal heirloom.

  • anon||

    You got that wrong; they were searching for fruitless versions of MJ, which I'm pretty sure are the only versions that exist.

    However, when Monsato comes out with some strawberry-pot hybrid, I'm so there.

  • pan fried wylie||

    fruitless versions of MJ, which I'm pretty sure are the only versions that exist.

    A fertilized flower is a fertilized flower. Granted that seeds are undesireable, but they are out there.

  • Zeb||

    Then there's that kind with the red berries that Ringo found in Caveman

  • CE||

    Hence the old refrain, "strawberry fields forever"?

  • Aresen||

    Tomatoes are not fruit. That is why the search was fruitless.

  • ||

  • ||

    Uh, tomatoes are totally fruit. Like, for real. Get your fruits straight! And I don't mean Liberace!

  • Zeb||

    Fruit and vegetable are not mutually exclusive categories.

  • CE||

    Actually, they are. Tomatoes belong to the first and not the second.

  • Zeb||

    This is the stupidest argument ever. We all know what tomatoes are.

    But I'll engage anyway. I still say you are wrong. Do you also insist on calling beans, peas, cucumbers and okra fruits? They all have seeds, so they are fruits.

    Also, there are different definitions for "fruit" and "vegetable" depending on whether you are talking about how things are used as food or about biology.

  • mr simple||

    There are people that think tomatoes, cucumbers and okra are vegetables? The song doesn't go "Beans, beans the musical vegetable."

  • Zeb||

    Who knows? I'm not a mind reader. Here's my definitions: Fruits are the seed bearing bodies of flowering plants. Vegetables are plants or parts of plants that are not grains and that can be eaten.

  • SKR||

    technically grains are fruits too.

  • Zeb||

    And can you think of a word for flatulence that rhymes with vegetable?

  • fish||

    Fregetable?

  • Brother J||

    Knowledge is the realization that tomatoes are fruit. Wisdom is having the sense to not include them in a fruit salad.

  • ||

    And no dead dogs?

  • pan fried wylie||

    a fruitless search

    Har. dee. fucking. har. har.

  • db||

    No, no, they heard that potheads get the munchies and hoped they would score Froot Loops.

  • sarcasmic||

    The owners of a small organic farm in South Arlington are demanding an apology from police who raided the property in early August in what amounted to be a fruitless search for marijuana.

    Apology? From the police? Haaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, that'll happen. When monkeys fly out of my butt.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    "When monkeys fly out of my butt."

    Will that be in the next installment of Warty Hugeman?

  • Number 7||

    Improperly stacked firewood? Is this where we have arrived? A SWAT team shows up and their booty is old unpaid parking tickets and wood arranged in a way that they don't like?

    And from the air wouldn't you be able to discern the difference between MJ and tomatoes, because one has large red appendages on it?

  • Dweebston||

    You can't expect a bevy of armed and armored officers to cool their heels back at the station when there's violations of property codes to detain and terrorize inhabitants over.

  • Homple||

    Swat teams gotta swat.

  • sarcasmic||

    They're a totally different shade of green.

  • anon||

    Without the big red giveaway tomato plants can look remarkably similar.

  • Bryan C||

    From the air, you mean? Or as seedlings? I don't have any experience with MJ, but I've seen plenty of tomato varieties at various stages of growth, and none of them look particularly like cannabis to me.

  • anon||

    As seedlings, when they first sprout. Not as full grown plants.

  • Zeb||

    The fact that any of the code violations listed are considered in any way anyone else's business is fucking insane.

  • ||

    Yeah, "improperly stacked firewood" is fucking Kafka-esque. It's a bureaucrat's dream.

  • sarcasmic||

    Got to cite them for something. Besides, if a code enforcement officer can't find a violation then they're not doing their job. The whole point is to make it impossible to fully comply.

  • Zeb||

    Makes me really glad to live where I do. I've been building my house over the past year or so. We do have a (part time) code guy in my town. Which is not ideal, but the total time he has spent inspecting my work has been about 15 minutes and that is for 3 separate inspections including inspecting the foundation, the framing, plumbing and electrical wiring and the insulation. If I lived somewhere with an inspector who was a real stickler, I probably would have murdered someone by now.

  • Brett L||

    "Here's where I buried your predecessor. As you can see, I put an extra foot of concrete in and ran the rebar right through his body to account for the inevitable settling as he decayed. So do I pass or what?"

  • pan fried wylie||

    "Except your land isn't zoned for burial."

  • ||

    If you lived in a town with a stickler inspector, you may be dead by now.

  • Loki||

    He's just waiting until the very end when he'll show up and demand a bribe or else he'll claim that he's found all kinds of shit.

  • Zeb||

    Maybe. He seems like a decent sort of guy, though. I'm considering just never calling for the final inspection. After all, when is a homeowner built house ever really done?

  • SKR||

    you need the Certificate of Occupancy. The trick is to do the absolute minimum to get the CO and then have fun.

  • pan fried wylie||

    because one has large red appendages on it?

    Without the big red giveaway tomato plants can look remarkably similar.

    1. theyre only red right before harvest.

    2. the plants have entirely different growth habits.

  • trshmnstr||

    I'm just waiting for the day that I get served with a no-knock because of the lights i have over my fish tank. They are effectively "grow lamps", and my living room probably gives off the same thermal signature as a small growout room.

  • CE||

    Stock up on some of those pacu fish and hope they bite the cops somewhere painful when they arrive.

    http://www.independent.ie/worl.....89930.html

  • ||

    Nom nom nom nom

  • gaoxiaen||

    Yowser!

  • Loki||

    Shellie Smith's position that "she is entitled to inalienable rights, granted by her creator, as all men and women are. Unless she has made a contract by a signed written agreement with another party, be it a man, a company or a government agency, or unless she has caused damage to a person or their property, no one shall have power over her."

    It slmost sounds she's under the delusion that this is a free country or something. I mean, inalienable rights, granted by her creater? What a load of poppycock! /sarc

  • ||

    On the plus side, some hippies learn the value of private property (I'm assuming they're the socialist variety hippie, but that's just a bias on my part).

  • JW||

    They'll either be libertarian converts or getting their comeuppance for their lifetime voting record.

    Hoping for the former.

  • Dweebston||

    Not enough Right People/Top Men in the city council or local chamber.

  • Drake||

    They will assume that this is the work of the evil Conservatives - and continue on in their binary world. No third choice need cross their thoughts.

  • ||

    With talk about being able to do what they want if they're not hurting anyone, it sounds like they're already at least most of the way to libertariandom.

  • ||

    And STILL voting democrat.

  • ||

    The language they use is not that of a socialist, it is very much more that of a libertarian or anarchist. Just because they're filthy hippies doesn't mean they can't also be true lovers of liberty.

    Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Hey! Unless this is a nude love-in, get the hell off my property!

    Free Waterfall Junior: You can't own property, man.

    Professor Hubert Farnsworth: I can, but that's because I'm not a penniless hippie.

  • Brett L||

    I'm pretty sure hippies are allergic to Arlington.

  • Zeb||

    They seem more like the self-reliance, type of hippie. Which I can respect even if they are into a whole bunch of nonsense about consciousness vortexes and such.

  • CE||

    It was an "intentional" community. They didn't just end up there accidentally.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    I don't think the place is even that unsightly. I think someone stepped on the wrong person's toes somewhere in the past.

    http://intothegardenofeden.com.....&Itemid=14

  • anon||

    Wow, there was so much bullshit on just the opening page I had to close it to prevent brain damage.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Yeah, there's a ton of bullshit, but the place doesn't look like a garbage dump

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It actually looks pretty cool, if those pictures are representative.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Really. Looks like a place I'd like to visit for an hour, if I didn't have to listen to or read any vegan propaganda.

  • Floridian||

    Looks like they keep chickens and have fish ponds. Also quail.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    No way I'd visit that place. I mean, they can't even stack firewood properly. Probably a death trap.

  • sarcasmic||

    Typical lefty morons who don't know the difference between wealth and money, and have no concept of specialization or division of labor.

    At least they're not pushing their ignorance on everyone else.

  • anon||

    Valid point, and they definitely didn't deserve to have their place trashed for growing fruits and vegetables.

  • sarcasmic||

    Their place was trashed because they look like hippies. If you look like a hippie then you're inviting trouble from the cops.

    I used to look like a hippie. Long hair, jeans and t-shirts. Cops would harass me at every available opportunity.

    Since I cut my hair and changed my wardrobe they haven't bothered me once.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Since I cut my hair and changed my wardrobe they haven't bothered me once.

    Isn't that the reason Mom's are always on their kids to keep their hair cut?

  • Floridian||

    Compliance was achieved.

  • ||

    Their place was trashed because they look like hippies.

    AND

    They live in Texas.

  • Zeb||

    See, my strategy was always to look just a bit more respectable than the other hippies I was hanging out with.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Always wear a suit and tie when gardening.

  • ||

    How do you know they are lefty morons? They sure seem to know what personal liberty is and say so quite clearly.

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe they're anarchist morons. You should pay them a visit.

  • ||

    Maybe I should. They'd probably appreciate me not judging them on their appearance, which you whine about the cops doing to you and then immediately do it to them. Do you ever examine what you say before you say it?

  • sarcasmic||

    Maybe you should read my moniker again. Not everything I say is serious.

  • ||

    Uh-huh. Riiiigghhht.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Meta...

  • sarcasmic||

    And I wasn't judging them on their appearance, but by the economically illiterate garbage on their website. Being that there is an inverse relationship between ones knowledge of economics and their likelihood of being a liberal...

  • ||

    That's what I was judging them on, too. I didn't even understand WTF they were trying to say.

  • anon||

    That's because the words they try to use to convey a point have no meaning.

  • Juice||

    They are "freeman-on-the-land" morons. And if they aren't hurting anyone, they should be left alone.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It looks like they are hosting that on an ISDN line in one of the bedrooms or something.

  • Anonymoose||

    Their main image at the top of the page is a huge 18MB file and they use the browser to scale it down. If anything someone should be arrested for that. Maybe licensing for web designers is a good idea.

  • JW||

    Oh, no question this was from a dickhead neighbor's complaint.

    "...unstacked firewood and oh yeah, they're growing pot in the fields too. I saw those hippies selling it out back the other day."

  • ||

    Holy baby jeebus, I hope Ted doesn't click on that! The 5100 x 3500 px image will send him into seizures!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hasn't he converted back to a text browser yet?

  • ||

    That looks like a really pleasant place. Yeah, no question some busybody dickhead neighbor got pissed off about the hippies living next door.

  • Zeb||

    After reading more of their site, I think I like these people. They seem to really value individual autonomy and think that things like contracts and the Constitution are important. There is a lot of wacky hippie stuff too, but nothing that offends my libertarian sensibilities. They seem to understand that their lifestyle is a matter of personal preference and that everyone has the right to live life in their own way.

  • anon||

    Libertarian commune?

    Hell on earth.

  • Zeb||

    Heh, yeah. Though I suppose there is no rule that says libertarians have to be prickly individualists. That's just usually how it works out.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Libertarian commune?

    Hell on earth.

    I've heard it can also be called a Jugallo gathering.

  • Juice||

    They're not technically "sovereign citizens" but pretty close.

  • Jerryskids||

    To be fair, those are some ugly looking tomatoes, and ugly looking tomatoes can be just as illegal as marijuana.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Holy fuck. I think I just decided that I hate people.

  • JW||

    I hope the IJ takes this up and sues them back to the marketing stone age.

  • ||

    Well, the article is going on 10 years old, so methinks the statute of limitations may have run out. Wonder what's going on now with this guy? Or if the regulation is still in place? Or if other people have run afoul of it?

  • ||

    THEY, are NOT people.

  • Loki||

    I think I just decided that I hate people.

    It took you until just now?

  • sarcasmic||

    "Last year, we had to dump $3 million worth of tomatoes, and we had customers ... who were begging for them."

    Nothing grows the economy quite like prohibiting economic activity.

  • MJGreen||

    It worked during the Great Depression!

  • Zeb||

    And helped to make it Great.

  • ||

    "If you allowed the producers of UglyRipe to ship any quality of tomato, then how could you justify not allowing any quality tomato into the market place?"

    ...Uh...correct.

  • ||

    That's one of the box-kickingest non-cop-related articles I have ever read.

  • Juice||

    How is it not cop related?

  • Floridian||

    Can he leave the co-opt and advertise independently? Sale direct to consumers and distributors using the Internet?

  • Zeb||

    Trouble is, proper tomatoes don't ship very well.

  • Brett L||

    Fucking Florida.

  • ||

    They appear to have been released from the borders of FL a few years later.

  • Floridian||

    Yay! Victory for commerce. Now I'm sad that this is considered a victory. Where is my Rye?

  • Loki||

    Marketing committees were set up by Congress in 1937 to allow small farmers of fruits, vegetables and nuts to join together and set marketing standards.

    Yay, another retarded depression era policy! The New Deal! It's the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    UNSTACKED FIREWOOD - The bane of modern existence.

    Shoot on sight and seize their property!

  • Almanian!||

    Well, yeah, but NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED.

  • MappRapp||

    Joe Daddy John is not going to like that at all.

    www.Tactical-Anon.tk

  • Bryan C||

    "a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises."

    I bet the interiors of their closets and drawers were just filthy.

  • ||

    You simmer gazpacho???? Heathen. You probably eat Chicago deep dish pizza.

  • Zeb||

    I think he was referring to two different uses for tomatoes there.

  • ||

    Not clear the way he wrote it. My assumption is still "Chicago-deep-dish-loving heathen."

  • ||

    Supposed to be a reply to Zeb. Fucking squirrels. They probably also think Chicago deep dish is actually pizza.

  • Zeb||

    Well, I like Tucille, so I try to be charitable in my reading.

  • Paul Pot||

    This is what prohibition really means, it is nature that is outlawed and our connection to it. What really scares them is people living sustainably because it means living without or with less money there by reducing the tax base the government can draw from. That is why they want everyone working for a company. For maximum profit and maximum taxation to fund their war state. The war on drugs is really the war on your right to be self sustainable.

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