A crack SWAT team of sherrif's deputies, health inspectors, and Ohio Department of Agriculture officials busted into the Manna Storehouse food co-op in LaGrange, Ohio, in a raid last week. The co-op is also the home of the Stowers family, so Katie Stowers, her children, and her in-laws were held at gunpoint while the agents took tens of thousands of dollars worth of meat, plus computers and cell phone. Chad Stowers, Katie's husband, wasn't home because he is a U.S. Navy Seabee currently in Iraq.
Their crime? The warrant listed the reason for the raid as "beef."
Manna may, perhaps, have needed a license to run a retail food establishment. Mostly a coop, they did sell some leftover products in a small store on the property. The exact nature of the business is in dispute, which is why the Stowers' wrote letters to various agencies asking for advice on how to proceed. Obviously, the best way to reply to that request was with a SWAT team.
The folks over at Peace Chicken (yes, that's a real site, compete with chicken death doomsday clock) are seriously peeved. They offer, from the Lorain county sherrif's page, a list of the legit justifications for a SWAT raid:
- Hostage Situations: the holding of any person(s) against their will by an armed or potentially armed suspect.
- Barricade Situation: the stand-off created by an armed or potentially armed suspect in any location, whether fortified or not, who is refusing to comply with law enforcement demands for surrender.
- Sniper Situations: the firing upon citizens and/or law enforcement officers by an armed suspect, whether stationary or mobile.
- High-Risk Apprehension: the arrest or apprehension of armed or potentially armed suspects where the likelihood of armed resistance is high.
- High-Risk Warrant Service: the service of search or arrest warrants where the warrant service matrix or policy recommends or requires the use of SWAT.
- Personal Protection: the security of special persons, such as VIP's, witnesses, or suspects, based on threat or potential threat to the well being of those persons.
- Special Assignments: any assignment, approved by the SWAT Operations Commander, based on a high level of threat and/or need.
Not on the list:
- Licensing Confusion: when a farm might be a retail establishment, or it might not, based on high level of threat from pitchforks and/or women and children.