Nearly one year ago, Becky wrote about a ridiculous armed raid of a raw food co-op in California, Rawesome (video above of that). What a waste of resources. What a ridiculous raid in the first place. Now, apparently, the agencies involved in that raid have decided it wasn’t a waste of resources and have even decided it’s worth conducting another such raid. They’ve arrested 3 people on 13 counts of conspiracy to sell unpasteurized dairy products.
“A multi-agency SWAT-style armed raid was conducted this morning by helmet-wearing, gun-carrying enforcement agents from the LA County Sheriff’s Office, the FDA, the Dept. of Agriculture and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control),” Mike Adams of Natural News reported yesterday.
Thank you to all those wonderful agencies for doing such great work. (Sarcasm.)
Note that Rawesome is a “private buying club” that does not sell its product to the masses but only to people who agree to take responsibility for their own health into their hands. So,.. how is it even a public threat in any way, even if you consider raw milk and cheese potentially harmful to your health? (Which doesn’t seem to be proven.)
Founder of Rawesome James Stewart’s 2011 Arrest
James Stewart, the founder of Rawesome and “a pioneer in bringing wholesome raw foods directly to consumers through a buying club,” as Adams writes, “was followed from his private residence by law enforcement, and when he entered his store, the raid was launched.” He is reportedly being held on $123,000 bail and cannot use bail bonds. Furthermore, if he does come up with the cash, they’ve demanded he disclose where he got the money from. (Illegal.)
I’m sorry, but WTF?! He’s selling raw cheese and milk. He’s not a mafia lord.
Here are more details from Adams:
Law enforcement demanded that all customers (members) of the store vacate the premises, then they demanded to know how much cash James had at the store. When James explained the amount of cash he had at the store — which is used to purchase product for selling there — agents demanded to know why he had such an amount of cash and where it came from.
James was handcuffed, was never read his rights and was stuffed into an unmarked car. While agents said they would leave behind a warrant, no one has yet had any opportunity to even see if such a warrant exists or if it is a complete warrant.
Law enforcement then proceeded to destroy the inventory of the story by pouring the milk down the drain and / or confiscating raw cheese and fresh produce for destruction.
One report says that $10,000 worth of raw milk were dumped down the drain.
Video of this year’s raid:
2 More Arrested as Well
In addition to Stewart’s arrest, 2 more were arrested in raids of Rawesome and Healthy Family Farms — Sharon Palmer (of Healthy Family Farms) and Victoria Bloch (the local L.A. co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price foundation) — following the 21-page complaint that led to the raids. Palmer’s bail bond is recommended at $121,000 and Bloch’s at $60,000.
This seem totally beyond what is at all legal for law enforcement agencies to do in such a situation? It sure does to me. And Mike Adams writes: “We believe this was an ILLEGAL raid being conducted mob-style by government thugs who respect no law and no rights.This is an all-out war by the government against people who try to promote healthy raw and living foods.”
Actions Being Organized
Mass protests and direct action are needed right now to get the injustice of all this enough coverage to make a difference. And they are sorely needed not only for this case but for any future cases like it. Stay tuned for more info on those or send us a comment or email if you are organizing one. One that has been arranged in L.A. for this morning is as follows:
There will be a formal public protest at tomorrow’s arraignment hearings. If you live in Los Angeles, show up on the morning of 8/4 at Los Angeles Superior Court, Criminal Justice Center, 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Court opens at 8:30 a.m., so organizers are asking protesters to arrive at 7:45am.
Also, go to www.ConsumerWellness.org if you want to make a donation to Stewart’s legal defense fund. 100% of donations given are going towards that.
The full summary of charges from the L.A. District Attorney’s Office are as follows:
Sharon Ann Palmer, 51 (dob 04/14/1960), James Cecil Stewart, 64 (dob 07/26/1947) and Eugenie Victoria Bloch, 58 (03/17/1953) were charged in a 13-count complaint, BA 385253, which includes four conspiracy counts. Stewart and Bloch were expected to appear in Department 30 in the Foltz Criminal Justice Center Thursday for arraignment, said Deputy District Attorney Kelly Sakir of the District Attorney’s Environmental Law Section. Palmer’s arraignment hearing has not been set.
Palmer owns Healthy Family Farms, LLC, in Santa Paula, which prosecutors allege has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007. The business Healthy Family Farms and Palmer are charged in nine of the 13 counts. Bloch works for Palmer and is charged in three conspiracy counts.
Stewart runs the Venice market Rawesome, which has been in operation for more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license, prosecutors allege. Stewart is facing 13 counts.
During a year-long investigation, investigators made undercover purchases of unpasteurized dairy products from Healthy Family Farms stands at Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara county farmers markets and at Rawesome. The products included unpasteurized goat milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir.
The investigation found that Healthy Family Farms and Rawesome customers were required to pay a membership fee of up to $50, or purchase a one-time “day pass” at Rawesome to purchase products there. Bloch reportedly informed undercover operatives that the membership payments and paperwork were needed for “legal” reasons, and they were not supposed to sell dairy products to nonmembers.
In a case cited in the 21-page complaint, an undercover investigator received goat milk, stored in a cooler in the back of Healthy Family Farms van, in the parking lot of a grocery store.
While it is lawful to manufacture and sell unpasteurized dairy products in California, applicable licenses and permits are required. These include regular veterinarian inspections of the animals and following equipment and sanitation requirements.
You can call the L.A. District Attorney’s Office if you like (213-974-3512) or write them at:
L.A. District Attorney’s Office
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Food Renegade writes: “If you call or write, please be sure to ask how these agencies justify this raid as a valid expenditure of public funds, particularly when the CDC’s OWN DATA proves raw milk is safe!”
Image via Food Renegade