SWAT Team conducts food raid in rural Ohio

December 4, 2008 (Updated December 26)

See also Global Food Management (more links on food control)

Community Policing | An army of world servers


Note: The report below was not written by me (Berit), but I did add these quotes:

"Over the past 20 years Congress has encouraged the U.S. military to supply intelligence, equipment, and training to civilian police. That encouragement has spawned a culture of paramilitarism in American law enforcement. The 1980s and 1990s have seen marked changes in the number of state and local paramilitary units, in their mission and deployment, and in their tactical armament." --Cato Institute (more information below)

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." --Barack Obama, "Obama's Civilian National Security Force"

"At the World Food Programme we have recognized what a valuable tool food aid can be in changing behavior. In so many poorer countries food is money, food is power....." --Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of the World Food Program, "The UN Plan for Food and Land"

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 grandparents, their daughter-in-law (whose husband is currently serving as a U.S. Navy Seabee in Iraq), their children and grandchildren for four hours. 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. [See video: The Stowers tell their story]

There were agents from the Department of Agriculture present, one of them identified as Bill Lesho. The search warrant is reportedly suspicious-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.

For verification see this court filing showing that government exceeding its authority

This same type of abusive search and seizure was reported by those innocents who fell victim to oppressive federal drug laws passed in the 1990s. The present circumstance raises the obvious question: is there some rabid new interpretation of an existing drug law that considers food a controlled substance worthy of a nasty SWAT operation? Or worse, is there a previously unrecognized provision(s) pertaining to food in the Homeland Security measures? Some have suggested that it was merely an out-of-control, hot-to-trot ODA [Ohio Department of Agriculture] agent, and, if so, this would be a best-case scenario. Anything else might spell the beginning of the end for the freedom to eat unregulated and unmonitored food.

One blogger familiar with the Ohio situation has reported that:

“Interestingly, I believe they [Manna Storehouse] said a month or so ago, an undercover ODA official came to their little store and claimed to have a sick father wanting to join the co-op. Both the owner and her daughter-in-law had a horrible feeling about the man, and decided not to allow him into the co-op and notified him by certified mail. He came back to the co-op demanding to be part of it. They refused and gave him names of other businesses and health food stores closer to his home. Not coincidentally, this man was there yesterday as part of the raid.”

The same blog also noted that the Ohio Department of Agriculture has been chastised by the courts in several previous instances for its aggression, including trying to entrap an Amish man in a raw milk “sale,” which backfired when it became known that the Amish believe in a literal interpretation of “give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:42)

The issue appears to be the discovery of a bit of non-institutional beef in an Oberlin College food service freezer a year ago that was tracked down by a county sanitation official to Manna Storehouse. Oberlin College’s student food coop is widely known for its strident ideological stance about eating organic foods. It seems that the Oberlin student food cooperative had joined the Manna Storehouse food cooperative in order to buy organic foods in bulk from the national organic food distributor United, which services buying clubs across the nation. The sanitation official, James Boddy, evidently contacted the Ohio Department of Agriculture. After the first contact by state ODA officials, Manna Storehouse reportedly wrote them a letter requesting assistance and guidelines for complying with the law. This letter was never answered. Rather, the ODA agent tried several times to infiltrate the coop, as described above. When his attempts failed, the SWAT team showed up!

Food cooperatives and buying clubs have been an active part of the American landscape for over a generation. In the 1970s, with the rise of the organic food industry (a direct outgrowth of the hippie back-to-nature movement) food coops started up all over the country. These were groups of people who freely associated for the purpose of combining their buying power so that they could order organic food items in bulk and case lots. Anyone who was part of these coops in the early era will remember the messy breakdown of 35 pounds of peanut butter and 5 gallon drums of honey!

These buying clubs have persisted and flourished over the years due to their ability to purchase high quality organic foods at reduced prices in bulk quantities. Most cooperatives have participated greatly in the local agrarian economies, supporting neighborhood organic farmers with purchases of produce, eggs, chickens, etc. The groups also purchase food from a number of different local, regional and national distributors, many of them family-based businesses who truck the food themselves. Some of these food cooperatives have become large enough to set up mini-storefront operations where members can drop in and purchase items leftover from case lot sales. Manna Storehouse had established itself in such a manner, using a small enclosed breezeway attached to their home. It was a folksy place with old wooden floors where coop members stopped by to chat and snack on bags of organic corn chips.

The state of Ohio boasts the second largest Amish population in the country. Many of the Amish live on acreages where they raise their own food, not unlike Manna Storehouse, and sell off the extras to neighbors and church members. There is a sense of foreboding that this state crackdown on a longstanding, reputable food cooperative operation could adversely impact the peaceful agrarian way of life not only for the Amish, but homeschoolers and those families living off the land on rural acreages. It raises the disturbing possibility that it could become a crime to raise your own food, buy eggs from the farmer down the road, or butcher your own chickens for family and friends – bustling activities that routinely take place in backwater America.

The freedom to purchase food directly form the source is increasingly under attack. For those who have food allergies and chemical intolerances, or who are on special medical diets, this is becoming a serious health issue. Will Americans retain the right to purchase food that is uncontaminated by pesticides, herbicides, allergens, additives, dyes, preservatives, MSG, GMOs, radiation, etc.? The melamine scare from China underscores the increasingly inferior and suspect quality of modern processed institutional foods. One blog, commenting on the bizarre and troubling Manna Storehouse situation, observed that:

“No one is saying exactly why. At the same time the FDA says it is safe to eat the 40% of tainted beef found in Costco's and Sam's all over the nation. These farm raids are very common now. Every farmer needs to fully equipped [sic] for the possibility of it happening to them. The Farmer To Consumer Legal Defense Fund was created just for this purpose. The USDA just released their plans to put a law into action that will put all small farmers out of business. Animals for the sale of meat or milk will only be allowed in commercial farms, even the organic ones.” December 3, 2008 7:09 PM

"The police paramilitary units also conduct training exercises with active duty Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. State and local police departments are increasingly accepting the military as a model for their behavior and outlook.... The problem is that the mindset of the soldier is simply not appropriate for the civilian police officer. Police officers confront not an 'enemy' but individuals who are protected by the Bill of Rights. Confusing the police function with the military function can lead to dangerous and unintended consequences...." (Diane Cecilia Weber, Cato Institute, "Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in Police Departments")

Updates: December 26:  Declaration of Intent, Notice & Demand: See the last document in this pdf file -- a letter from Mrs. Stowers dated December 10.

Global Food Control. Raid on family's home and organic food co-op challenged: "The Buckeye Institute's 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today took legal action against the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Lorain County Health Department for violating the constitutional rights of John and Jacqueline Stowers of LaGrange, Ohio....  ODA and Lorain County Health Department agents forcefully raided their home and unlawfully seized the family's personal food supply, cell phones and personal computers. ... The Buckeye Institute argues the right to buy food directly from local farmers; distribute locally-grown food to neighbors; and pool resources to purchase food in bulk are rights that do not require a license. In addition, the right of peaceful citizens to be free from paramilitary police raids, searches and seizures is guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 14, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution.

    '"The Stowers' constitutional rights were violated over grass-fed cattle, pastured chickens and pesticide-free produce.... Ohioans do not need a government permission slip to run a family farm and co-op, and should not be subjected to raids when they do not have one. This legal action will ensure the ODA understands and respects Ohioans' rights.'...

    "On the morning of December 1, 2008, law enforcement officers forcefully entered the Stowers' residence, without first announcing they were police or stating the purpose of the visit. With guns drawn, officers swiftly and immediately moved to the upstairs of the home, finding ten children in the middle of a home-schooling lesson. Officers then moved Jacqueline Stowers and her children to their living room where they were held for more than six hours."

(Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund) TCLDF Joins Buckeye Institute as Co-Counsel in Civil Suit over Manna Storehouse Raid: "The complaint claims that the Stowers’ due process, equal protection and other constitutional rights were violated when their house was raided by representatives from various state and local governmental agencies, including the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  ...several of whom had guns drawn and who treated the Stowers family like drug dealers. ...one of the deputies even snatched a cell phone out of the hand of a teenage son who was attempting to call Mr. Stowers....

     "FTCLDF General Counsel Gary Cox said 'this is an example where, once again, the government is trying to deny people their inalienable, fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice. The purpose of our complaint is to correct that wrong.' The complaint also seeks a preliminary injunction against the Department of Agriculture and declarations stipulating that Manna Storehouse and the Stowers are not a 'retail food establishment' under Ohio’s Food Safety Code. As a private cooperative, Manna Storehouse is exempted from the Food Safety Code."

December 11: A media response to this article repeatedly refers to Manna Storehouse as a "business," not a food cooperative. That distinction may be part of the problem. Perhaps the government wants to redefine a legal co-op as a "business" -- and is therefore using Manna Storehouse as a warning to other long-established co-ops. The Sheriff's report doesn't clarify this issue. But it does mention that one of the eleven "assisting officers" was wearing "raid pants" as "a member of the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force."

Until now, rural co-ops like Manna Storehouse have been operating freely. For a glimpse of how they might function, look at this definition by "United Buying Clubs:

"A buying club is a group of people who pool their time, resources, and buying power to save money on high quality healthful foods. Members of a buying club share the work and expenses involved in acquiring and distributing the food to their group. Each member contributes to the buying club by doing at least one job, and the buying club in turn benefits from the talents and skills of many. Members divide the work equally among themselves, trading their time for the lower prices. Members also enjoy the camaraderie of working with other people in their community."

Most of the cooperatives buy produce, eggs, and a variety of meats from local farmers. This is part of their commitment to a simple and sustainable lifestyle, a goal many Christians share with environmentalists. Co-op members seek to reduce the costs of energy & transportation. And they like to know WHERE & HOW their food is grown, so they can avoid questionable food and ingredients from countries such as China.

What's at stake here is the freedom to purchase food directly from the farmer, or directly from one middleman. Can we no longer buy eggs or chicken from a neighbor? Would this become a crime? When does the traditional practice of communal sharing become a formal BUSINESS? If a few friends get together and split a few cases of honey and soy milk, should that be defined as a BUSINESS? 

Does the local police have the constitutional right to treat peaceful, unarmed families as dangerous enemies?

It's not surprising that the mainstream news media is downplaying and distorting this event. The fact that the initial "belligerent" SWAT team was replaced by a "good cop team" that tried to befriend the family -- and the lack of specific data on the sheriff's report -- suggest that someone recognized the threat to the public image of "law enforcement" and chose to conceal the most damaging data.

Since globalist leaders plan to control food and supplements, water, physical and mental health, energy, and "human settlements" – and as the unthinkable global standards and surveillance system are being implemented -- they will obviously need paramilitary forces to control the unhappy masses.

The Stowers family has been financially devastated by this atrocity. As far as they know, they have broken no law -- no charges have been filed -- yet they lost all of their computers, phones [some have now been replaced] and personal food for the coming year. They are not asking for help, but if you can help them, you can find  contact information at: www.mannastorehouse.com


“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;  Of whom shall I be afraid? ...

Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear;
Though war should rise against me,  in this I will be confident."

Psalm 27:1-2


From Jo Lewis: My sister used to belong to a co-op. I went over one week when she was helping with the delivery. We went to a church early in the morning and set up tables and got ready for the semi to arrive with all the supplies.
     We had a section of the room set aside for each family who had ordered items. Cold items were held in individual coolers until each family came to p/u. I was fascinated as I had no idea how organized and clever it all was until I witnessed it. I was very interested in starting one here but no friends were willing to form a co-op.

See Community Policing  |  Homeland Security and the transformation of America

The Revolutionary Roots of the United Nations  |  The UN Plan for Food and Land