On August 2 at 7:30 am, an Arlington SWAT team swooped down on an organic farm, presumably on the grounds that it was a marijuana operation. Instead they seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers.” From the Garden of Eden website:
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…No marijuana or other drugs were found on site and the inhabitants of the premises were all unarmed.
The real motive behind the attack seems to have been a long-running dispute with the City of Arlington over code enforcement issues.
In the suit that will surely follow, Arlington City Manager Trey Yelverton should be required to produce the evidence that required him and his police command to deploy the equivalent of a U.S. Army unit. Did they have photos of marijuana plants? Did they have an affidavit from a witness who saw marijuana plants? Where did their reasonable suspicion of criminal activity come from? And what/who told them that these people might be armed and dangerous?
Couldn’t two officers in a squad car have handled this? Rhetorical question. Of course they could.
SWAT teams are unsafe toys. Most municipal officials should not be allowed to play with them.