Staff Writer, DL Mullan
Police Brutality / Riots
"... 911, what's your emergency?"
The Ferguson Police...
In the article by Glenn Greenwald, The Militarization of U.S. Police: Finally Dragged Into the Light by the Horrors of Ferguson, he uncovers the startling truth behind the increased aggression against the American people.
As is true for most issues of excessive and abusive policing, police militarization is overwhelmingly and disproportionately directed at minorities and poor communities, ensuring that the problem largely festers in the dark. Americans are now so accustomed to seeing police officers decked in camouflage and Robocop-style costumes, riding in armored vehicles and carrying automatic weapons first introduced during the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, that it has become normalized. But those who bear the brunt of this transformation are those who lack loud megaphones; their complaints of the inevitable and severe abuse that results have largely been met with indifference.
If anything positive can come from the Ferguson travesties, it is that the completely out-of-control orgy of domestic police militarization receives long-overdue attention and reining in.
Looters, law breakers, anyone can agree those individuals inciting violence need to be arrested for their day in court, but so do officers who commit crimes against the community they are supposed to serve.
You do remember: To Serve and Protect, don't you?
It's not: Shoot First and Ask Questions Later, if only there is an internal investigation, otherwise there seems to be a law enforcement free for all. This is America. This is not Iraq.
Americans walking down the street and protesting are protected by the First Amendment. That pesky Bill of Rights that tells the government what it can and cannot do along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The latter is what officers are sworn to uphold.
Well an oath of office is just elective. Who cares about treason or Posse Comatatus anyway these days? The police are immune to simple legalities, right?
The best and most comprehensive account of the dangers of police militarization is the 2013 book by the libertarian Washington Post journalist Radley Balko, entitled “Rise of the Warrior Cops: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.” Balko, who has devoted his career to documenting and battling the worst abuses of the U.S. criminal justice system, traces the history and underlying mentality that has given rise to all of this: the “law-and-order” obsessions that grew out of the social instability of the 1960s, the War on Drugs that has made law enforcement agencies view Americans as an enemy population, the Reagan-era “War on Poverty” (which was more aptly described as a war on America’s poor), the aggressive Clinton-era expansions of domestic policing, all topped off by the massively funded, rights-destroying, post-9/11 security state of the Bush and Obama years. All of this, he documents, has infused America’s police forces with “a creeping battlefield mentality.”
I read Balko’s book prior to publication in order to blurb it, and after I was done, immediately wrote what struck me most about it: “There is no vital trend in American society more overlooked than the militarization of our domestic police forces.” The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, in the outlet’s official statement about Reilly’s arrest, made the same point: “Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time.”
In June, the ACLU published a crucial 96-page report on this problem, entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.” Its central point: “the United States today has become excessively militarized, mainly through federal programs that create incentives for state and local police to use unnecessarily aggressive weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield.”
But isn't that what happens when the tiger catches its tail? The militarization of the police force is not solving American unrest, it's fueling it. The power and might of the military in civil forces' hands has created a far more volatile state of affairs.
Isn't that more dangerous than a teenager throwing rocks or a looter?
We have riots. After a few days, the rioters go home. Looters can be found with the RFID chips in the merchandise they stole. Easy fix: follow, document, search warrant, and arrest. How difficult can that possibly be?
Ultimately, police militarization is part of a broader and truly dangerous trend: the importation of War on Terror tactics from foreign war zones onto American soil. American surveillance drones went from Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia into American cities, and it’s impossible to imagine that they won’t be followed by weaponized ones. The inhumane and oppressive conditions that prevailed at Guantanamo are matched, or exceeded, by the super-max hellholes and “Communications Management Units” now in the American prison system. And the “collect-it-all” mentality that drives NSA domestic surveillance was pioneered by Gen. Keith Alexander in Baghdad and by other generals in Afghanistan, aimed at enemy war populations.
Oh, yeah, we're at WAR!
With men in caves who don't exist and other militants created by the CIA and do we really need to go on? The American government has become the domestic terrorist that it tells us to fear in each other. But the fun doesn't stop there.
One government newsletter - from “the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), a little known federal agency that equips police departments with surplus military gear” – boasted that “Fiscal Year 2011 was a record year in property transfers from the US military’s stockpiles to police departments around the nation.” The ACLU report notes: “the Department of Defense operates the 1033 Program through the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), whose motto is ‘from warfighter to crimefighter.’” The Justice Department has an entire program devoted to “supporting military veterans and the law enforcement agencies that hire them as our veterans seek to transition into careers as law enforcement officers.”
As part of America’s posture of Endless War, Americans have been trained to believe that everything is justified on the “battlefield” (now defined to mean “the whole world”): imprisonment without charges, kidnapping, torture, even assassination of U.S. citizens without trials. It is not hard to predict the results of importing this battlefield mentality onto American soil, aimed at American citizens: “From Warfighter to Crimefighter.” The results have been clear for those who have looked – or those who have been subject to this – for years. The events in Ferguson are, finally, forcing all Americans to watch the outcome of this process.
Because if it's on television, Americans might wake up to the fact that their own government sees them as terrorists as outlined in the Patriot Act and NDAA.
Okay, maybe not.
Source: The Intercept