Big Government Police State: Florida residents being fined for growing vegetables on their own property

Vegetable gardens
Source: NaturalNews.com
Samantha Debbie
August 4, 2016

Florida may be known for its tropical climate and spicy Latin-American culture, but what it’s not known for is the freedom to garden. The southeastern state continues to make headlines over the state government’s contempt for front yard gardens.

Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts had been cultivating their garden for 17 years when their hometown, Miami Shores, passed a new ordinance restricting vegetable growing to the backyard. The couple begrudgingly dug up their lush garden in August 2013, after local officials threatened them with a daily fine of $50, according to reporting by Fox News.

Miami Shores fights longtime residents over front yard vegetable garden

The ordinance was a component of a new zoning plan adopted by the town, which has a population of about 10,500 people, and is located just north of Miami.

The South Florida couple sued over the garden ban, arguing that it was a violation of the state’s Constitution, because it included “improper limits on their private property rights and violation of the equal protection clause by singling out vegetables over other plants.”

The couple’s attorney argued at a hearing in June 2016 that barring them from growing vegetables anywhere on their property violated their Constitutional rights.

“We’re not saying you can do anything you want on your property,” attorney Ari Bargil told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Monica Gordo. “We are simply saying you can grow vegetables on your property and that is protected by the Constitution.”

Growing vegetables is not a fundamental right, says community lawyer

Richard Sarafan, the attorney for Miami Shores, countered that the new zoning rule was not “irrational and treated all homeowners the same: their front yards should be covered with grass, sod or a ‘living ground cover’ not further defined. It’s no problem, he said, to have a vegetable garden in the backyard,” according to reports.

“There certainly is not fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard,” Sarafan said. “Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose.”

On Thursday, August 25, a Miami-Dade judge upheld the ruling, indefinitely banning front yard gardens. Circuit Judge Monica Gordo ruled that while she doesn’t understand the argument that front yard gardens destroy aesthetics in neighborhoods, the city nonetheless has the right to ban them, according to the Miami Herald.

Judge: City has ‘every right to decide front-yard veggies make a neighborhood ugly’

“Given the high degree of deference that must be given to a democratically elected governmental body … Miami Shores’ ban on vegetable gardens outside of the backyard passes constitutional scrutiny,” wrote Gordo.

The ruling is a big disappointment for the South Florida couple, who love to grow a variety of organic vegetables including okra, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach and several varieties of cabbage.

“I am disappointed by today’s ruling,” said Ricketts, whose legal battle with the city lasted three long years.

“My garden not only provided us with food, but it was also beautiful and added character to the community. I look forward to continuing this fight and ultimately winning so I can once again use my property productively instead of being forced to have a useless lawn.”

Meanwhile, the upscale community maintains its right to regulate the area’s aesthetic. Vegetables are fine as long as they’re out of sight, said the community’s attorney at a hearing in June.

A ‘blow to property rights’

The only recourse the couple has is to ask that the ordinance be revised or vote in new council members, said the judge.

“They can petition the Village Council to change the ordinance. They can also support candidates for the Council who agree with their view that the ordinance should be repealed,” wrote Gordo.

“If Hermine and Tom wanted to grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos, Miami Shores would have been completely fine with it,” said the couple’s lawyer, Ari Bargil, a representative from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm.

“They should be equally free to grow food for their own consumption, which they did for 17 years before the village forced them to uproot the very source of their sustenance.”

The firm called the ruling a “blow to property rights.”

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

MiamiHerald.com

OffTheGridNews.com

FoxNews.com

NaturalNews.com

DEA Caught Spying on Innocent Travelers to Steal Hundreds of Millions — And It’s 100% “Legal”

dea1
Source: FreeThoughtProject.com
Claire Bernish
August 11, 2016

An intensely troubling report proves the DEA pilfers millions in cash from travelers with little, if any, evidence they committed even minor crimes — and virtually never return any of the money, even if charges are never levied.

Worse, simply purchasing a one-way ticket — or even flying to California — constitutes sufficient reason for the DEA to target someone for a potential cash seizure.

“We want the cash,” George Hood, a now-retired agent who supervised a drug task force assigned to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, arrogantly boasted of supposed attempts to bring down cartels via their wallets. “Good agents chase cash.”

USA Today studied the DEA’s airport operations, and though information was difficult to obtain — due, in large part, to the rarity cash seizures led to arrests or even detainments by agents — it’s clear the agency has reaped an astonishing profit by regularly mining the travel records of millions of people.

As USA Today wrote of the cash-grabbing operation:

It is a lucrative endeavor, and one that remains largely unknown outside the drug agency. DEA agents assigned to patrol 15 of the nation’s busiest airports seized more than $209 million in cash from at least 5,200 people over the past decade after concluding the money was linked to drug trafficking, according to Justice Department records. Most of the money was passed onto local police departments that lend officers to assist the drug agency.

Those departments and the agency “count on this as part of the budget,” explained Louis Weiss, a former agent supervising the group assigned to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Basically, you’ve got to feed the monster.”

Agents frequently receive tips about putatively suspicious itineraries or travel patterns — paying in cash, purchasing a one-way ticket, or even having checked luggage — but cannot use such tips alone to detain passengers or search their belongings. After being alerted, agents use the information to question travelers and ask to search their bags.

Most often, agents seize large sums of cash — “sometimes totaling $50,000 or more, stuffed into suitcases or socks” — leaving a receipt in its place without ever arresting, detaining, or charging individuals with any crime.

Totals seized by the DEA vary widely by location: in Los Angeles, the total through mid-2015 topped $52.1 million; in Cincinnati, $18,047 — but that isn’t accidental. Destinations in California were flagged for connections to marijuana and narcotics trafficking.

Exactly how the DEA procures Americans’ travel records remains uncertain, as is the scope of the agency’s snooping — but USA Today spoke with several agents on condition of anonymity who made clear the cash-filching operation is extensive.

However unethical it might be to plunder money from wholly innocent people, under federal asset forfeiture law, the practice is perfectly legal. Any law enforcement agency has broad powers to seize cash and property from anyone if those items are suspected to be somehow related to a crime — but the hotly contentious program does not require any proof a crime has been committed or that the subject has been involved in criminal activity.

“Going after someone’s property has nothing to do with protecting them and it has everything to do with going after the money,” Renée Flaherty, attorney with the asset forfeiture-specializing Institute for Justice, aptly noted for USA Today.

Asset forfeiture has spurned so much controversy, the Department of Justice halted the program in late December 2015 — but the respite for the American public didn’t last long. Just three months later, the DOJ reinstated its highly lucrative property plundering, because revenue — from the government’s standpoint, what better way exists to rob the public blind with veritable impunity.

“To put it simply,” USA Today observed in 2013, law enforcement is “developing an addiction to drug money.”

Besides suspect travel plans, agents also use drug-sniffing K-9s to detect drugs in travelers bags as a pretext for searches, which could then lead to a lucrative seizure — a distressing fact, given a study seven years ago found cocaine residue on 90 percent of U.S. dollars. Thus, nearly anyone traveling with cash in their luggage — particularly in large amounts — could easily tip off a canine investigator.

According to five current and former agents who spoke with USA Today, the DEA has been able to cultivate a sweeping network of informants trained to scrutinize itineraries and tip off the agency — and most receive what amounts to kickbacks for their efforts in the form of a percentage of the haul. Indeed the web of informants is so extensive, “agents have been able to profile passengers traveling on most major airlines, including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United and others.”

Those airlines, however — acting with ethical integrity clearly devoid in government agencies — for the most part, remain reluctant to cooperate with the DEA’s efforts and would not hand over passenger information.

“They really did not want to be associated with subjecting their passengers to government scrutiny because of privacy issues,” Weiss explained. “They discouraged their employees from assisting us.”

Agents also told the news outlet in many cases, grounds even to arrest supposed couriers were hazy at best, and upon release would use the incident to sniff out more extensive trafficking involvement. But almost none of the encounters ever led to arrests or charges directly stemming from the DEA’s search and seizure operations.

“Of 87 cases USA Today identified in which the DEA seized cash after flagging a suspicious itinerary, only two resulted in the alleged courier being charged with a crime,” the outlet reported. “One involved a woman who was already a target of a federal money-laundering investigation; another alleged courier was arrested a month later on an apparently unrelated drug charge.”

Without arrests or charges — without crime — attached to almost any of the DEA’s cash grabs, how the program remains legal is anyone’s guess. Agents admitted that despite fairly significant busts of actual drugs, the DEA’s mission primarily rests in seizing cash.

And as the horribly failed and altogether farcically-premised drug war labors forward — reaffirmed by today’s announcement from the DEA it has no intent to reschedule cannabis from its position alongside cocaine and heroin as a dangerous substance with no medical value — Americans can expect the government’s legalized robbery scam to continue unabated.

Read More At: FreeThoughtProject.com

Urban Farmers Targeted By City, Issued Multiple Threats After Property Was Vandalized

Urban farming

Source: TheDailySheeple
via: NaturalNews.com
Claire Bernish
July 26, 2016

Southeast Oklahoma City residents Charles and Julie Henry face a blatantly unconstitutional invasion of their rights thanks to a stifling change to a city ordinance making vandalism to their property essentially a crime — by them.

(Article by Claire Bernish, republished from www.thedailysheeple.com)

Though the Henrys complied with the code, albeit a bit late due to a prohibitive financial situation, an opportunistic code enforcer triggered a chain of events no law-abiding property owner should ever be subjected to — including the possibility their property may be raided by Oklahoma County Sheriffs under a blanket warrant in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

According to a GoFundMe page set up to assist the family’s legal battle against the City, their low-income neighborhood typically experiences an outbreak of vandalism each spring — which the city promptly cleans up to discourage other vandals from copying. [1]

But a startling change in city code placed the onus of responsibility for covering up vandals’ handiwork on property owners, essentially victimizing them twice — particularly for Charles and Julie who don’t have room in their budget to afford paint. And, as expected when spring came this year, the Henrys’ privacy fence became a canvas for vandals.

This time, however, the Henrys realized they’d run out of paint and had to buy more — which, due to budgetary reasons, took longer than expected. During the week it took the family to procure paint, a city code enforcement inspector performing the annual sweep cited the Henrys for the violation and demand the graffiti be covered.

But the inspector didn’t stop there — using his camera as a periscope, he peered behind the privacy fence and noted other minor violations of city ordinance and citing the Henrys for each one. Confronted by this blatant invasion of privacy, the inspector falsely claimed the “right of easement” allowed him onto the family’s property. Knowing that claim didn’t hold weight, Charles rightly told the code enforcer a warrant would be necessary for inspections and photographs — and though the inspector left immediately, he forked over the lengthy list of violations.

As proven in time-stamped pictures which appear on the GoFundMe page, the Henrys complied with the order to paint the fence less in less than a month, but responded to the additional violations with an appropriately-annotated list of U.S. Supreme Court rulings — showing Fourth Amendment reasons the case had no merit — demanding the city not proceed to enforce the inspector’s citations.

Two months without any response from the City, and the Henrys were never summoned to appear in Municipal Court. But it became clear the City simply ignored the legitimate, legal rebuttal of the citations when it filed the matter with Oklahoma County District Court, inaccurately claiming they supplied a written refusal to comply — and falsely stating they failed to address any of the citations, including that the fence was never painted.

As Steve Dickson, who started the GoFundMe page for the Henrys, explained, [2]

“Based on the lie that the graffiti was never abated, the City is asking the District Court for a Writ of Assistance to enter the Henry’s property by force of the Oklahoma County Sheriff and is asking for what is in essence a ‘General Warrant’ to search the property for compliance of cited issues and for discovery of further issues.

“Think about that for a moment. Graffiti on a fence seems to give the city the idea that they have the right to invade private property on a witch hunt for more code violations by which they can fine, force removal of private property or jail the property owner under the protection of the county Sheriff’s office.”

In its egregious, overly-aggressive attempt to extort money and invade personal property under the protection of a gun and a badge, the city is acting no better than a common thug — or, perhaps more accurately, as an organized criminal.

Unfortunately, as the city’s actions prove, knowing your rights doesn’t necessarily guarantee the State — the thug government — will comply.

Read more at: www.thedailysheeple.com

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

[1] https://www.gofundme.com/2e3akuh3

[2] https://www.gofundme.com/2e3akuh3