Unfortunately, the following story refers to an act of arrogance by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. I have been slow to report it, in the hope that it would be more extensively reported in the mainstream media; however, I believe there is enough truth in it to report here, and further delay in reporting it will only serve to erode our rights further.
As reported by the Lorain Morning Journal December 3:
PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP — An Ohio Department of Agriculture agent seized food, electronic devices and documents from a Pittsfield Township organic and natural food cooperative believed to be unlicensed, according to a search warrant filed yesterday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court.Jacqueline and John Stowers, owners of the Manna Storehouse, 43565 SR 303, were inspected in November 2007 by the Lorain County General Health District, according to court records.
On Monday, ODA enforcement agent William Lesho confiscated hundreds of pounds of processed beef and large amounts of lamb, turkey and other perishable products in addition to office files, a computer, two cell phones and other electronic devices, according to the search warrant inventory. The items were taken to establish the Stowers' ownership in any property, records of hidden wealth or illegal income and anything that would establish illegal activity, according to the search warrant affidavit.
However, this is not the whole story. A thoroughly-investigated piece in a Christian blog adds the following details:
(The source linked above also contains some interesting and very scary quotations suggesting that this kind of activity is likely only to increase in the months ahead).
On Monday, December 1, a SWAT team with semi-automatic rifles entered the private home of the Stowers family in LaGrange, Ohio, herded the family onto the couches in the living room, and kept guns trained on parents, children, infants and toddlers, from approximately 11 AM to 8 PM. The team was aggressive and belligerent. The children were quite traumatized. At some point, the “bad cop” SWAT team was relieved by another team, a “good cop” team that tried to befriend the family. The Stowers family has run a very large, well-known food cooperative called Manna Storehouse on the western side of the greater Cleveland area for many years.
There were agents from the Department of Agriculture present, one of them identified as Bill Lesho. The search warrant is reportedly supicious-looking. Agents began rifling through all of the family’s possessions, a task that lasted hours and resulted in a complete upheaval of every private area in the home. Many items were taken that were not listed on the search warrant. The family was not permitted a phone call, and they were not told what crime they were being charged with. They were not read their rights. Over ten thousand dollars worth of food was taken, including the family’s personal stock of food for the coming year. All of their computers, and all of their cell phones were taken, as well as phone and contact records. The food cooperative was virtually shut down.
There was no rational explanation, nor justification, for this extreme violation of Constitutional rights.
Presumably Manna Storehouse might eventually be charged with running a retail establishment without a license. Why then the Gestapo-type interrogation for a 3rd degree misdemeanor charge? This incident has raised the ominous specter of a restrictive new era in State regulation and enforcement over the nation’s private food supply.
* The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) agents did not state what allegedly illegal activity was being investigated.
* The Stowers contacted the ODA requesting information on how to comply with the law. Their request was never answered.
* This is not the first time the ODA has been chastised by the courts for its flagrant disregard of Constitutional rights.
There is an irony to this story as well. Mr. Stowers was not home when the raid took place because he was serving in Iraq.
I cannot put a secessionist spin on this article, except to suggest that the ODA is being encouraged by Federal use of police-state tactics and Federal contempt for the rights of the people.
The time may soon come when we will have to openly protest against "repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny," if there is to be any hope that absolute tyranny can be averted.
This story has several updates, which may be found in the category Manna Storehouse.
Virtual buckeye to PeaceChicken.