Last April, Robert and Adlynn Harte had three tomato plants, two butternut squash, and one melon growing in their hydroponics system in their basement. On the morning of April 20th Robert Harte found himself prone on the floor of his entryway with his hands splayed above his head, where he remained detained as the police with guns drawn made their way through his house. Deputies rummaged through the home and had it sniffed over by a drug smelling dog only to fail at finding anything illegal. Naturally the SWAT team in vests descending upon the family home at 7:00 am, shouting and brandishing assault rifles , had the effect of frightening the couples’ two children who are ages 7 and 13. Furthermore, the thirteen year old boy was chided and accused of marijuana use by the police. The deputies during the raid told the Hartes that they had been "under surveillance for months". However, no search warrant was presented or issued at the time of the raid.
The Hartes have now filed suit against Kansas police through the Open Records Act seeking information on why they were targeted. The couple suspects that frequenting stores with hydroponics supplies had somehow marked them with a red flag. They were raided during “Operation Constant Gardener" which was a Kansas and Missouri operation designed to look for marijuana, guns, cash, and drug paraphernalia at homes who grow indoors. The April 20th date is significant in that it’s a favorite day for police crackdowns because marijuana users have long used the day for celebrations.
The Hartes have no criminal records and have previously had to pass extensive background checks in order to be employees for the CIA. Adlynn now works for a financial planning firm and Robert now cares for their two children at home.
"If this can happen to us and we are educated and have reasonable resources, how does [sic] somebody who maybe hasn't led a perfect life supposed to be free in this country?" Adlynn asked in an interview with the AP.
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