“The protests and violence following the death of the 18 year old black boy in Ferguson MO highlight the increasing militarization and “hardening” of the police. The police have been on camera in tactical gear at barricades, armed with heavy weapons sitting atop armored vehicles.”
“America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s,” reports Newsweek, which explains a federal program that lets many state and federal police agencies receive weapons, ammunition and other gear from the Department of Defense, in a move that was initially made as part of the U.S. war on drugs.
The subject of how municipal police departments receive military-grade equipment was the subject of a New York Times article earlier this summer. Here’s a sentence that sums it up:
“During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of “surplus” machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” (adapted from a report on the NPR website).
It is a disgrace that the House of Representatives has created this situation. Obama has presumably had to go along with it lest he is accused of being “soft on drug dealers”. The so-called war on drugs has been a failure for years, and should have been wound up. But the politicians still continue it because the gun lobby and other people close to both political parties are making money from it, some people would say “making money out of death and incarceration”.
I will comment on incarceration tomorrow, but meanwhile I have to say that the militarization of the police is one of the most un-Epicurean, undemocratic and threatening things we have seen for years in the United States. Land of the free and home of the brave?