Recently, hell erupted in the garden again – this time in Arlington, Texas, on a small, organic farm named "Garden of Eden." At about 7:30 in the morning on Aug. 2, a SWAT team of armed police agents, code enforcement officers, and narcotics detectives suddenly exploded all over Shellie Smith's little farm. They burst through the gate, handcuffed the terrified residents, and held them at gunpoint while agents executed the raid's mission.
Which was what, exactly? A City of Arlington spokeswoman explained that, "The purpose was to improve the quality of life [and] to resolve life safety issues within neighborhoods." It seems there had been complaints about marijuana being grown and about the place being unkempt.
So, what did the derring-do raiders achieve? They captured 15-20 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants, some native grasses, and all the sunflowers. Then they whacked down Shellie's sweet potato patch with a Weed Eater and seized the farm's compost, along with some wooden pallets, old tires, and furniture.
Notice what they did not find? Marijuana plants. Nor any other illegal products. In short, on the basis of rumor, autocratic police power was unleashed to "improve the quality of life" by destroying an organic farm.
Why would police resort to paramilitary force just to check out a few marijuana plants and some trash? Because right-wing officials and arms-industry lobbyists have been pushing police departments all across America to switch from a peacekeeping approach to an aggressive, militarized SWAT mentality, with officers being armed, trained, and psyched to treat common citizens as enemies. To learn more, visit www.aclu.org/militarization.
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