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Archive for the ‘militarizing police’ Category

Even a broken clock…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 14, 2014

…is right twice a day. Such is the case with Libertarianism. Here’s an opinion piece by Rand Paul calling for the demilitarization of the police.

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


We Must Demilitarize the Police
by Senator Rand Paul

Anyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention, Sen. Rand Paul writes for TIME, amid violence in Ferguson, Mo. over the police shooting death of Michael Brown

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.

Glenn Reynolds, in Popular Mechanics, recognized the increasing militarization of the police five years ago. In 2009 he wrote:

Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … Police look inward. They’re supposed to protect their fellow citizens from criminals, and to maintain order with a minimum of force.

It’s the difference between Audie Murphy and Andy Griffith. But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson observed this week how the rising militarization of law enforcement is currently playing out in Ferguson:

Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?

Olson added, “the dominant visual aspect of the story, however, has been the sight of overpowering police forces confronting unarmed protesters who are seen waving signs or just their hands.”

How did this happen?

Most police officers are good cops and good people. It is an unquestionably difficult job, especially in the current circumstances.

There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement.

Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.

This is usually done in the name of fighting the war on drugs or terrorism. The Heritage Foundation’s Evan Bernick wrote in 2013 that, “the Department of Homeland Security has handed out anti-terrorism grants to cities and towns across the country, enabling them to buy armored vehicles, guns, armor, aircraft, and other equipment.”

Bernick continued, “federal agencies of all stripes, as well as local police departments in towns with populations less than 14,000, come equipped with SWAT teams and heavy artillery.”

Bernick noted the cartoonish imbalance between the equipment some police departments possess and the constituents they serve, “today, Bossier Parish, Louisiana, has a .50 caliber gun mounted on an armored vehicle. The Pentagon gives away millions of pieces of military equipment to police departments across the country—tanks included.”

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.

This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.

Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.

The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.

Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.

Let us continue to pray for Michael Brown’s family, the people of Ferguson, police, and citizens alike.

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

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Posted in libertarians, life, militarizing police, police, police brutality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Officer Friendly by Tom Tomorrow

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 14, 2014

He’s just a good guy with a gun.
OfficerFriendly

Posted in militarizing police, police, police brutality | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

From MDC to MDBC?

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 13, 2014

There’s a punk band called MDC, one version of their name being Millions of Dead Cops. You get the idea.

Train Station Shooting
BART police’s latest tactic targets vulnerable people
By Jennifer Friedenbach

If in hearing about the latest attempts to clear out evacuation routes at BART stations, you smelled a rat, you may be closer to the truth then you realize. BART police have been gearing up for months to clear homeless people who are doing nothing wrong or illegal out of BART stations, and some cynical pencil pusher came up with a perhaps not-so-perfect cover story.

When BART police officials first announced their intentions of clearing out travelers trying to catch a wink under the guise of clearing evacuation routes, my first thought was: “In an emergency, wouldn’t the well-healed alongside the down and out be evacuated together?”

Add to that a close look at the areas they are clearing people out of — open plazas and 20-foot-wide hallways, and the yarn falls apart.

The BART Police Department has been embattled almost since its inception, with bad publicity flowing directly from poor decisions and horrific incidents. In 1992, BART Officer Fred Crabtree, who was white, shot and killed 19-year-old Jerrold Hall, who was black, near the Hayward station after receiving reports that a BART passenger had been robbed. Hall was unarmed and shot in the back, and the department initially reported he was shot in the chest, and tried to hide the truth. Hall’s father asked for civilian oversite for BART police, but they didn’t bother putting that together for more then a decade later after Oscar Grant III was killed on New Year’s Day 2009.

BART police made precedent in the U.S. by being the first government agency to shut down cellphone service when activists gathered to protest the fatal police shooting of Charles Hill, a homeless man in psychiatric crisis. Then there was the well-known shooting of Grant, which was caught on numerous cellphones, and which BART police attempted to suppress. More recently, BART police were caught on film literally torturing a nonviolent black passenger by repeatedly tasering him as he cried and begged them to stop. Let’s not forget an earlier shooting that occurred of Bruce Edward Seward, a naked mentally ill man who had gotten a hold of the officer’s billy club at the Hayward station. See a pattern? Each of these victims were poor, and either black or mentally ill.

Let’s recap. Fatal shootings of black and mentally ill people, suppressing evidence, trampling free speech, no oversight, torture and, as if they just can’t stop this downward spin into the dark sinkhole of immorality, they are now citing and arresting often black or mentally ill destitute people seeking shelter from the elements.

We are facing an unprecedented housing crisis in San Francisco. Mothers with their children are being forced to sleep at the Civic Center station while waiting six months for proper shelter. People are so desperate for a place to sleep, free of harassment, they are sneaking into elevator shafts and down train tunnels, literally risking their lives to get some rest. Last year, homeless father David Thomas was crushed to death by the elevator, and another poor man was killed by a Powell Street train when trying to get his belongings from below the platform.

We have one shelter bed for every five homeless people in San Francisco. People working three jobs cannot afford housing. We have passed laws making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks, closed down our parks at night, power-hosed down public areas under freeways that offer shelter, and just generally kicked and shoved people to the point where they have nowhere to simply exist. Instead of recognizing the crisis and coming up with effective solutions, BART has chosen the tried and failed route of rousting, citing and arresting. These latest efforts by BART to displace poor people from the stations will only drive them deeper into the tunnels, and even more deaths will occur.

BART police’s latest move is unconscionable and follows right along that same old path of fear and intolerance of our poor communities. It is long past time for that train to stop.

Jennifer Friedenbach is executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

August 11, 2014 San Francisco Examiner opinion
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Posted in life, militarizing police, police, police brutality, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Examiner | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Militarizing the police

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 27, 2013

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The militarization of the police is a hot topic. Because of military training of the police, reallocation of matériel from the military to the police, and employment of ex-military personnel by the police, among other reasons, your local police are now coming to resemble the military of these United States of America. Here are some links for you to follow:

7 Ways Obama Admin has Accelerated Police Militarization

Rise of the Warrior Cop

And finally, something you can do about it!

Drawing Down: How to Roll Back Police Militarization in America

Fuck the police, indeed!

Posted in militarizing police, police, US military | Leave a Comment »