The latest example of the militarization of police comes out of the Lone Star State. A community of people had the audacity to live on a 3.5-acre self-sustaining organic farm in Arlington, Texas they called the Garden of Eden. That alone is enough of an offense these days that warrants drone surveillance and swift action from a SWAT team decked out in military gear, wielding automatic weapons.
In their raid, SWAT team members mowed down grass that city code enforcers claimed was too high and ripped out “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers.” And while they were destroying this community’s private property and gardens, other SWAT team members held those inside at gunpoint. The raid lasted about 10 hours.
The City of Arlington’s excuse for the raid was that this Garden of Eden community had made several city code violations, stemming back to February. Garden of Eden residents had received notice of “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” according to a statement made by Shelli Smith, the property owner. The community residents immediately took care of the bushes that were growing too close to the street.
But as for the rest of the complaints, this property was privately owned. How they kept the premises was not any business of the city. Or so they thought. These benign code violations were dealt with by sending in a SWAT team.
The other excuse given by the City of Arlington was that a community member had told the police that the Garden of Eden was basically a giant marijuana farm. However, there is no police record of this alleged encounter between the police and a community resident. It appears the police just made that part up to justify a military-style raid on the property and to be able to play with their surveillance drone toy. No marijuana was found on the property.
I think the reason the Gestapo raided this place was summed up well by the property owner in a statement she released: “We have been targeted by the system because we are showing people how to live without it.” The government has to feel needed. When they feel their grip of control fade even the slightest bit, they must remind the people who is really in control.
To a power-hungry government, independence is terrorism.