Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is reporting a story that is quite incredible – start to finish. How far would your lawyer go to make sure your baby was fed during your arrest and raise a storm to get you out? Something we don’t think about – what happens when police arrest a nursing mom with a hungry little baby? Do they let her nurse? Do they care?
Some months ago in Colorado, a very pregnant Renee Abbott received a knock on the door by a sheriff’s deputy alerting her that the Abbotts’ cows were loose and needed immediate rounding because they were in the municipal right of way. So she obeyed and did this by herself resulting in a fall and hospitalization. Their fence looked like it had been deliberately damaged by vandals – which is how the cows got loose. The deputy issued her a ticket for “grazing animals in the municipal right of way” even though it was an accident, not even by their doing.
Months went on, baby was fine, and Ethan and Renee were sitting down to dinner with their kids ages seven and four months on April 7 when Weld County law enforcement officers showed up and arrested Renee for – grazing animals in the municipal right of way. God forbid they accidentally eat the special municipal grass! Throw that mom in jail!
That’s what they did. She was handcuffed and taken away. Ethan was told that Renee would be held without bail until she could appear before a judge in the morning. The chaos of it was enough for Ethan, but aside from that, how was their exclusively breastfed baby going to be fed that evening, night and morning? (I’m assuming this wasn’t the time to suddenly switch to soy GMO chemical synthetic infant formula.)
Time was running out, but he called Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s Hotline which connected him to Attorney Elizabeth Rich – one of the coolest attorneys around. She helps peaceful farmers that are raided, harassed, and persecuted like Vernon Hershberger.
She could tell from the crying, there was a hungry baby there and looked up a traditional formula recipe from Sally Fallon Morell’s book Nourishing Traditions. It’s a politically incorrect recipe book with traditional foods (think grassfed, unpasteurized dairy, nutrition dense, fermenting your own meals). How many lawyers would do that for a family?
Next, Rich called the Weld County Sheriff’s office and gave the booking deputy hell! First she “made them conscious” of their shameful behavior dragging a nursing mother into the slammer over a minor code violation. The deputy did not appreciate her tone. According to FTCLDF, she asked about:
any aggravating circumstances, such as resisting arrest, threats to the officers, or disorderly conduct. There were not. [According to the “Daily Arrest Report” on the Weld County Sheriff’s website (no longer listed), Renee was being held for “failure to appear on a warrant”. When questioned by Attorney Rich, the booking deputy did not mention this charge. The “warrant” in question, however, was based upon the “grazing animals in the municipal right of way” charge.]
Finally, they agreed to release her. Ethan picked her up that night and she could feed her son.
What isn’t in the report, is that the family was receiving harassment from the department; up to 30 phone calls in multiple 24-hour periods, deputies watching their farm, delaying and changing court dates when Renee would appear (so don’t think they were avoiding the warrant) and more.
“They have threatened to ‘Detain us for investigation of our (agricultural) activities,'” Ethan says on their Facebook page in late March. Renee and baby apparently felt compelled to leave until the intimidation simmered and when they were back she was arrested. He continues (in late March, reproduced verbatim):
We have court (trial) this next week over the 1st set of tickets for our natural agriculture program. The goverments killing of chicks and turkeys, then charging us for it. They are and have threatened wittnesses – DENIED our right to supeana (sp?) and present evidence…
On April 7th he posted:
PLEASE CALL Weld County Sherriff Dept and tell them that this kind of attacks are not ok: Call 970-356-4015 ask for the Shift Comander.
And Monday Morning Please call the Weld County Sherriff at 970-356-4015 And tell them to stop Violating the rights of Natural Family Farmers.
A call to the Weld County Commissioners 970-336-7204 or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. A call to our fine state goverment or anyone else that might be interested would be nice to…
This attack has got to STOP! We Stand to loose our farm, our freedom, and everything we Have worked for…
The department apparently demanded he take it down and tried to gather info on the callers. They also appeared to have lost hundreds of dollars worth of poultry due to (possibly separate) charges. Could it be that the department is using bullying tactics because of their new natural farming practice?