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.
Adams School District 50 is defending its decision to punish a third grader for sniffing a Sharpie marker.
Eight-year-old Eathan Harris was originally suspended from Harris Park Elementary School for three days. Principal Chris Benisch reduced the suspension to one day after complaints from Harris’ parents.
Harris used a black Sharpie marker to color a small area on the sleeve of his sweatshirt. A teacher sent him to the principal when she noticed him smelling the marker and his clothing.
“It smelled good,” Harris said. “They told me that’s wrong.”
Eathan’s father, John Harris, says the school overreacted for treating Eathan as if he was huffing, or inhaling, marker fumes.
“I think it’s outlandish,” John Harris said. “It’s ridiculous.”
Eathan shyly shook his head “no” when a reporter asked if he knew about “huffing.”
Benisch stands by his decision to suspend Harris, saying it sends a clear message about substance abuse.
Right… because a kid who doesn’t even understand why he was punished will get the “clear message about substance abuse.” And it gets even better:
In his letter suspending the child, Benisch wrote that smelling the marker fumes could cause the boy to “become intoxicated.”
A toxicologist with the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center says that claim is nearly impossible.
Dr. Eric Lavonas says non-toxic markers like Sharpies, while pungent-smelling, cannot be used to get high.
“I don’t know whether it would be possible for a real overachiever to figure out a way to get high off them,” Lavonas said. “But in regular use, it’s just not something that’s going to happen.”
“If you went to Costco and bought 50 bags of Sharpies and did something to them, maybe there’s a way to get creative and make it happen,” Lavonas said.
Adams County School District 50 leaders were unfazed by the poison control center’s medical opinion.
“Principals make hundreds of decisions everyday based on our best judgment. And in that time, smelling that marker, I felt like, ‘Wow, that’s a very serious marker,’” Benisch said.
And I’m like: “Wow, principals make hundreds of fucking retarded decisions everyday based on their best but flawed judgment.”
Despite the medical evidence, Benisch promised to draw an even clearer line on markers.
“We’ve purged every permanent marker there is in this building,” he said.