Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson is what happens when white suburban cops get weapons of war

As one US military veteran wrote on Wednesday: ‘Their uniform would be mistaken for a soldier’s if it weren’t for their Police patches.’ Photograph: Jeff Roberson / AP
Michael Brown’s shooting was one thing. The protests are another. But military might does not belong on Main Street.

Sadhbh Walshe,, Thursday 14 August 2014 06.45 EDT

You can argue about the looting and the brick-throwing. You can argue about what constitutes a race “riot” these days – and why the hell we are seeing teargas every other evening in the suburbs, or Jim Crow-reminiscent police dogs in the year 2014. There are a lot of things worth arguing about now that the world’s eyes are focused on Ferguson, Missouri, a town where two-thirds of the population is black and 50 of the 53 police offers are white, where one of those officers gunned down an unarmed black kid in broad daylight.

But here is something that makes no sense, that is inarguable: Ferguson (population: 21,135) has about 40 robberies per year, a couple of homicides, almost no arson cases and a crime rate only a bit higher than the national average. Indeed, the town’s crime rate was going down as of two years ago, when the last major data is available. Ditto in neighboring St Louis.

Now St Louis isn’t exactly the picture of safety, but two years ago the St Louis Police Department also acquired a Lenco BearCat armored military vehicle, a “tactical support vehicle” and a helicopter that’s popular with the Korean air force. Earlier this year, the US Department of Homeland Security donated a 22-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle – the thing we used on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan – to the police department in nearby St Charles, Missouri (population: 66,463).

On Saturday night, as people took to the streets to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Ferguson Police Department, the chief of which reportedly displays a confederate flag in his home, had this at his disposal:

(More here.)


Blogger Patrick Dempsey said...

the militarization of the nation's police force has been going on for 20 years all because of the 1990 National Defense Authorization Act passed by a Democrat congress which allows the Pentagon to give excess military implements to local police forces at no cost to the recipient. Ostensibly, the reason was to help local police fight the war on drugs leftover from the 1980s. But violent crime is down significantly since 1993 and yet police forces are armed to the teeth.

It has nothing to do with white suburban cops. It has everything to do with the fact that for 50 years this country has traded freedom for security. And we now live in a security state where the only freedoms we enjoy are those the state sanctions us to have. The police are out of control in this country and they employ armored personnel carriers, machine guns, combat armor, drones and other military grade implements in their cruisers and armaments.

And we let them get away with it just existing as dutiful citizens while they destroy the very freedoms they claim to protect.

I, for one, defy the government as often as I can. I will never acquiesce to government edicts and will do everything I can to eradicate their power. And that includes never lauding 'first responders' when they have all have the power to crush liberties as we saw in Ferguson, MO.

2:15 PM  

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