Sunday, December 7, 2008

More on the Food Raid in Ohio

More on the raid by those thugs in Ohio:

When officers from the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio arrived last
Monday at the Manna Storehouse
food cooperative in LaGrange with weapons drawn and trained on Katie Stowers and
her children, along with her in-laws, there was one member of the family
Katie’s husband, Chad, is a U.S. Navy Seabee, helping in
construction projects in the midst of combat in Iraq. He’s been there, separated
from his family, for the last five months, supposedly protecting our rights from
abuse—the sort of abuse that appears to be taking place on an ever-more-frequent
basis at farms and food outlets around the country.
I should point out that
Katie didn’t broadcast the information about her husband to me—I inquired about
it after she had to interrupt our telephone conversation to take a call from
Chad in Iraq. Presumably, she was updating him about the raid he missed, in
which sheriff’s deputies, together with food inspectors from the Lorain County
Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, herded the family into
a home living room, and kept them under the guard of armed officers for about
seven hours, while they executed a search warrant, taking food, cell phones,
three computers, and business records. I asked Lorain if she was aware of the
irony of her husband putting his life on the line in Iraq, while she was being
held at gunpoint in her home by American law enforcement officials, and she
said, “It occurred to me.”
The reason for the heavy-handed treatment? That’s
not certain, since Lorain County officials won’t comment, except to say they are
conducting “an investigation.” Katie Stowers says the only reason she’s aware of
is a possible disagreement over whether the cooperative should be licensed as a
retail establishment. A year ago, county health department officials arrived
wanting to do an inspection, which the Stowers refused to allow, pending receipt
of a written explanation. “We sent them a letter, asking why. We never received
a response”...until Monday.
Manna Storehouse describes itself as a “natural
food co-op” that has been supplying members with beef, turkey, dairy products
(including pasteurized and unhomogenized milk; photo above from its web site),
and other products, for the last nine years. The Stowers family’s experience
last Monday has been described on a few web sites, including this
Katie Stowers said the account is pretty much accurate. She says the
officials showed up with a warrant, but that they didn’t identify themselves or
say why they were there. “We don’t know who it was.”
The raid appears to have
been launched under the auspices of the Lorain County Health Department, which
sent food inspectors. It involved the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which had
two employees there “in a supportive role,” according to a Lorain County Health
Department employee, Joyce Davis. And then there were the armed guys from the
sheriff’s office. The health department referred me to the Lorrain County
prosecutor, Dennis Will, for more information, but he didn’t return my
It’s getting so that such heavyhanded raids on peaceful farmers and
natural food distributors, which have long been exceptions in this country, are
getting to be the rule. We’ve seen them in the cases of Gary
Oaks in Cincinnati,
Richard Hebron in Michigan, Mark Nolt in Pennsylvania, Nature’s
Juice Co-op in Illinois
. And as we saw in the Meadowsweet Dairy case, judges
don't seem to care any more about abuses of search warrants and questionable
seizures of goods. (For background on cases I alluded without links, there are
multiple postings, accessible via the search function.)
I suspect the Lorain
County officials figured this was just another case of weirdo foodies, and
neglected to consider that even weirdo foodie family members fight for their
country in faroff lands.

Contact info. for officials in Lorain County, let's flood them with messages:

This kind of garbage has got to stop. It must not be tolerated.

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