Sunday, December 7, 2008

Comments About Manna Storehouse Raid

...otherwise entitled "Robbyn's Rules of Commenting." ;-)

A day or so ago, I posted a question trying to verify if an email I'd received was correct. It stated that Manna Storehouse, located in a private home, had been raided and their inventory and computers, etc, confiscated while the family was held at gunpoint. The reason I was particularly interested in this story is because the family business/buying co-op is the sort that helps others buy grassfed meats and organic foods at affordable prices. I was wanting to separate the fact from the fiction.

I am waiting for an official press release, which will come soon. When it does, I'll post it.

I have concerns for our constitutional rights and freedoms and that there may be some blatant injustices in small farmers, etc, being targeted in differing ways. I found it very difficult to believe that a dispute over licensing details could have actually resulted in a family's home being searched in the way it seems (by the accounts I've read) to have been. I'm still waiting for details.

An online friend of mine posted her concerns that this particular news story be correctly verified, and expressed her personal perspective as the wife of a law enforcement officer who each day is often required enforce the law while at the same time protecting himself. It is the reality of every family member of loved ones in law enforcement that their job requires the risk of their own lives. Her comments spoke to this and to the fact that often police are following orders. She also stated that she has a concern that farmers and homesteaders are being unfairly targeted more and more. She made her comments respectfully. They reflected her opinions, and the last time I looked, this is what our Constitution protects the right to express. Therefore, I thank her. I am thankful for our Constitution.

As a rule, I seldom edit or refuse to publish comments based on whether I agree or not with them. This will be one of those exceptions. Here is why--

I came home from work to an In Box with several more comments, all of which I appreciated reading. The part I had a problem with was that rather than address the content of my post, which was to get to the bottom of what really happened at Manna Storehouse, it began to be a dialogue among the commenters. Whatever has really happened, it has touched a nerve and involves very important issues. These issues include the role of law enforcement, Constitutional rights, the targeting of small groups (even families) without grounds or due process, potential abuses of privacy and other rights in the name of "security" or "compliance," and the ethical conundrum of those involved (law enforcement, etc) when the choice must be made to participate (or not) if it's obvious an injustice is being perpetrated under the guise of law.

These are tremendously important concerns!

Though I had no idea this would bring about such important discussion, I welcome it...within the confines of respect. That's the rule here... you can say hard things and I don't have to agree with you, nor do any commenters have to agree with each other. BUT. It has to be expressed respectfully.

I know...if you're the friends of the family who just got held at gunpoint, you're entitled to rant. Please do! But let's put things on the table without attacking others. That's my requirement.

I did not post the following comments in full, not because I wish to edit the convictions behind them, but because they became personal to one of the commentors, going beyond the realm of this blog in its ability to adequately foster dialogue. I thought they were borderline hostile, though it was probably wasn't meant personally. But to me, it did sound a bit too personal to other commenter's thoughts...an attack is different than dialoguing.

Here are some of the concerns I can post, excerpted from some of the comments in my In Box. I did not include whatever other valid parts of their comments that were directed to prior commentors. The discussion is out on the table for all, not to target an individual. My thanks to those who took the time to express your concerns:

#1 I wonder to what extremes tactical teams will just do their jobs... At some point, individuals have to be responsible for their actions which further tyranny, "just following orders" is no excuse.

#2 (sic throughout) I'm baffeled at the posted dialog. What have we come to? Yes, it's true. This family, who is providing a healthy source of organic FOOD, YES FOOD, NOT DRUGS or any kind of illegal product, was stormed upon by a SWAT team, in full riot gear, and had fully automatic guns pointed at them, including the children. No phone call, no explenation. Private property was taken, including a signifcant amount of food, valued at possibly $10,000.00. Yes, IT'S TRUE. This is a perfect example of the tyranny we can expect from our goverment in the days to come. THEY WERE GROWING HEATHLY FOOD. And every civil right we claim to cherish in this country was violated. What about those children? Did they deserve that experience? What did that teach them about thier country, thier leaders, thier goverment, thier law enforcment?

#3 At some point, even the ordinary swat team guy must take responsibility for what he does.

The point of some of the edited-out portions pointed to historical injustices (in particular the holocaust) and raised the issue of individual responsibility vs. following commands. Several folks stated this in various ways. I edited another part that used a religious rebuke in an insulting way. If you want to direct it to me, I'm fine with that...I initiated the topic. But leave heavyhanded personal remarks to other commentors out of it. I defend your own right to comment on my blog without being insulted as well.

These are important issues, and often emotional ones.

My heartfelt thanks to all who feel protective of our rights and our freedoms and who are hopping mad at injustice. We have every right to be.

I am thankful for our Constitution, for the law enforcement in this country who enforce it, and the freedom we have to appeal within that system to right any injustices or corruptions both within and without. There is much that needs to change.

I'd like to get the facts before going any further with this.

Thank you, Dina, for your link. :) I did see it. I'm awaiting the press release from the actual family, when they have made it official.

And right now, like Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

13 comments:

amanda o said...

holy cow...i missed something! i am impressed however with how you have chosen to deal with the comment situation on your blog. good for you.
further, while i clearly missed out on all the comotion and know little about this family's situation...all i can say as a wife of a law enforcement officer is that yes...each individual is responsible for his or her own actions...at all times. however, these types of "orders" from up on the hill is what we have brought on ourselves through electing and following the two-party system we currently have. i fear that only when this type of behaviour on the part of law makers and officials increases will the american people finally wake up and see that ultimate freedom is the key...not giving up our power to the government.
as always...still enjoying your blog my friend!
a

Gina said...

OK, Robbyn, I think I am living in a cave...this happened right next door to me (in OHIO) and I didn't hear anything on the news or papers. Sr works near there and would have told me if he had heard this on the radio. Apparently it is not newsworthy in this area.

I can't say I am shocked. For some time, ODA and MDA have been trying to create a "great lakes" state which would also include IN and IL. They copy each other to the "t". Mich has been known to do these sort of raids on cow share businesses and firewood sales and other value-added ag items. It's scary and the tactics used (no matter whose job it is) are always overkill (ordered by someone). Even in my job, I had an issue where an armed officer was told to go along to talk to a business owner about complying with something he wasn't even aware was a law (vagueness here on purpose-email me if you want).
Personally, and I am in a remote law enforcement field, I think rights are being violated. I have no doubt. However, that being said, many "food" related laws are vague in nature as to be intrepreted "as needed". Loop holes exist if you employ lobbiests, but not if they want to cite you or shut you down!

Sad, indeed...

Robbyn said...

Amanda, I deleted the original post after the comments became a dialogue that hit a nerve and engendered some emotional feedback. That's fine with me, but the point of the post was to find out what happened...I'd received an email about a family in Ohio who ran an organic and pastured meat co-op from their home and the email stated they'd been raided and held at gunpoint (children, too) in their own home from 11 am to 8 pm, and that their computers and food stores had been confiscated to the tune of an estimated $10,000 in value. I contacted the family and they were kind enough to tell me they'd forward me a press release when there was one. My reluctance to discuss beyond this too much seems to have rubbed some the wrong way as if I've questioned whether it happened, etc. I'm simply honoring the requests of the family and waiting till they say what they want to for the public. This has raised a lot of questions and a dear online friend was among the original commenters and offered her own perspective as a law enforcement officer's wife as well as expressing dismay at the potential for the mishandling of the law. Later comments began to target her in a very angry manner and I took out the personal insults and posted only the portions that spoke to the issue, not to specific commenters.

Thankfully we are still a nation that can use the law to correct abuses within the government itself if we'll use our constitution to protect our freedoms rather than allow them to be bypassed or twisted against us. I have a profound respect for the fact we have this tool and these freedoms and there is an urgency that we not allow those things to be compromised.

Gina, I'm not sure why the mainstream media has been slow on the uptake unless it's someone's job(s) on the line. I wish the press release would be forthcoming soon. There is much to be alarmed about. I don't care what supposed law is being "enforced" in these particular cases, something like a licensing issue should not be strong armed by entering a private residence and raiding it. Were the same tactics turned towards the big corporations, they'd have their hands so full they'd never have time to target the little guy, which it seems is happening more often than not. That is not the government we instituted when t his country was founded. We're a work in progress and there MUSt be corrections made to this process and its abuses and inconsistencies. Our government needs to begin seeing that "of the people" does not mean "against the people" if there are disputes. My concern is that often the little guy can't afford to go around defending himself the way bigger companies can. That's just not right.

Wendy said...

I read the orginal post, and I saw some of the comments, but obviously missed the bulk of them. I'm not sorry.

I can't comment on the raid, because I don't really know enough about what happened.

I will say that I really appreciate the way you've handled it on your blog. There really is no use in being divisive and pointing fingers, and while a healthy dialogue is a good thing, when it degenerates to the blame game any attempts to reach workable solutions are lost. I like that you brought it full circle back to the topic at hand, which is the erosion of our freedoms.

farm mom said...

I agree with Gina that MI in particular has been heavy handed on this issue. In fact, when we joined our raw milk cow-share program we were warned to keep our paperwork with us at all times. We were told a few stories of this dairy's family, and other customers being harassed by law enforcement because of their milk. It seemed ridiculous to me that we could be pulled over for having milk, and that we were most likely on a list somewhere for taking part in this "activity."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this story on your blog, I found this story on Ron Paul's site Campaign for Liberty. I am outraged and also concerned for my own food coop that I use every month, this only makes me want to buy more from them and get new people to join their food coop. One of the commentators were surprised the main stream media didn't touch on this story and its because we don't have a free media anymore. The internet will be the way the people communicate these stories to create outrage and force the media to cover these stories. I think one way is to google, manna storehouse because google keeps a tally on what people are reading.

das said...

State investigates LaGrange organic food business

The fact that the business deals in organic food “has no significance at all” in the investigation, Serazin said.

“This is just about getting a license. It’s a question of, ‘have they met the criteria required of everybody else in Lorain County who sells eggs and meat and other perishable items?’ If they have no regulations on them at all, the results can be very serious.”

Serazin said the business owners, John and Jackie Stowers, maintained they were exempt from having to be licensed.

[...]

According to an account posted Dec. 5 at www.digitaljournal.com, “SWAT police, armed (with) riot control weapons (and) packing automatic rifles … stormed a family food cooperative in Ohio.”

“I saw that Digital Journal story,” Resendez said. “It was absurd. All we did was secure the residence and the Department of Agriculture did the rest.”

das said...

Anonymous:

This has nothing to do with it being a coop or organic. I know that you probably believe that this is the "government" trying to "shut down" coops, probably at the behest of Corporate Agriculture or something similar.

Actually, we have laws that require proper licensing — which in turn requires proper handling, storage, etc., of perishable food — so that people don't get sick. I suppose if you're a true libertarian, you might believe that licensing and the laws that go along with it are just more oppressive government tools...that's fine, it's just a different point of view.

Unfortunately, we live in a society based on rule of law, where we collectively decide what principles we support in society by electing representatives. Again, I know you probably believe that the two-party system is utterly shot, and we no longer have any "real" freedoms.

Another issue is that when local law enforcement agencies are called to support another agency for a warrant, they often have a standard mode of preparation and response. This includes standardized equipment, personnel, and so on. It would be the same no matter where the warrant was served.

Anonymous said...

Please find the attached links for the Sheriff Department's Incident report and a copy of the Search Warrant itself with supporting documentation.

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/12/Lorain%20Sheriff%27s%20report.pdf

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/12/_1209165828_001.pdf

The county health department was concerned this may have been a retail food service operation, and upon being denied the opportunity to inspect the property as such, turned it over to the county prosecutor's office and, who then asked them to send it to the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture. The ODA sent an investigator who allegedly made a retail purchase of eggs. A search warrant was then served on the property by uniformed deputies and a couple of plain-clothed detectives. Perhaps in some parts of the country that is considered a SWAT team, but in the greater Cleveland area, it certainly is not.

MeadowLark said...

Thanks second Anonymous. I wanted to see the reports but hadn't been able to find them.

Steve and Paula said...

The Stowers did an interview.
We hav it posted on our blog.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

wow wow wow. I applaud your quest for getting to the bottom of this and finding out what really happened, Robbyn.
It's clear there are many sides (and opinions) to this story.
I just don't know what to think.

jlarson43 said...

On page 4 of this document:
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/12/_1209165828_001.pdf

Please see paragraph 6:

<QUOTE>
On or about October 7,2008, your affiant returned and was allowed to complete an application and purchase one (1) dozen eggs in the amount of $3.25. Your affiant paid membership fee of $5.00.
</QUOTE>

That last part is what is supposed to differientiate a "co-op" from a retail establishment.

But think of this: have you ever sold something to a friend or neighbor? If this is allowed to stand, YOU could be the next target of the American Gestapo!

I'm sorry for all the God-fearing law enforcement types, but these people were minding their own business. In the absence of real people harmed by the Stowers' operations, the government needs to BUTT OUT!

The other eggregous part was that the warrant was way, way too expansive in the items to be siezed.

And the warrant was timed to do maximum damage to the Manna Storehouse.