Seedballs seized by Sacramento Police at dawn raid.
Daniel Youngberg from Indymedia
SACRAMENTO--This morning, June 21 2003 at around 7:00 a.m., Sacramento
police officers paid a visit to the WTO mobiization Welcome Center
and seized over100 permaculture seed-balls. Activists from around
the country have been gathering in Sacramento and meeting at the
Welcome Center in preparation for protests against a June 23-25
U.S. Department of Agriculture tradeshow intended to convince WTO
member countries to accept new guidelines regarding biotechnology
and genetic engineering.
Mobilization organizers and indymedia reporters were on the spot
within moments of the police's arrival. Organizers spoke with the
police and the reporters documented the interchange with video and
still cameras. More officers came during the visit, totalling at
least four unmarked vehicles [pictured above] and eight officers.
The police claimed that the seedballs were illegal under statute
12.48.090, which is "Possession of prohibited weapons during
a parade or demonstration". The fact that the seedballs were
sitting idly at the edge of the parking lot, drying in the sun,
rather than being part of a "parade or demonstration"
was an irrelevant distinction to the police, who noted that protests
are planned soon in Sacramento. Activists had made the seedballs
the day before during a permaculture workshop. Each one contains
soil, some straw, and seeds. When left on the ground, the seedballs
are supposed to break down and sprout. Seedballs have been used
in urban areas to bring flowers and food to areas in need of more
green or sustenance. These particular balls contain heirloom seeds
for growing clover and mustard, among other things.
In an act of irony apparently unappreciated by them, the officers
loaded all the seedballs into boxes labeled "bean bag rounds"
and "red pepperball" [pictured above], which of course
are weapons used by police during parades and demonstrations. This
was a physical manifestation of the mindset created by the police
psychological training; that is, by putting the seedballs into weapon
boxes, the officers were mirroring the worldview that sees clumps
of dirt and puts them in a _mental_ box identifying them as dangerous.
Sad and funny, and a reminder that our imprisonment always starts
between our own ears.
An indymedia reporter pointed out to supervising officer J. Parker
that the permaculture session the day before had been videotaped,
and that it would be easy to show the District Attorney that the
balls contained nothing harmful. The reporter then suggested that
the police might hence want to avoid the embarrasment of bringing
such an obviously frivolous charge to him or her. Parker appeared
slightly thoughtful, and a few minutes later seemed willing to return
the seedballs, though that didn't end up happening.
While the interchange was going on, a property-owning neighbor came
over and gave the police a piece of her mind. She told them that
the activists could plant the seedballs "all up and down this
block", of which she owns a big chunk. We were all impressed
by her fire and strength, bless her heart!
The situation ended with the officers saying that the "owner"
of the seedballs (not that you "own" a seedball) could
retrieve them later. No one was charged with a citation or arrested.