These days of demonstrations for racial justice we have seen first hand the military style equipment and tactics now deployed against peaceful protesters and the description of the area occupied by protesters as the “battle space.” Who is the enemy and when did this happen to our country?
Wily Toritto wrote and warned of the militarization of the police in 2014.
Police Officer – 1950s
Ferguson Police during the domonstrations – so where’s the “threat”? It’s YOU fool!
When did the change take place? Were we asleep or what?
When did Jack Webb become “Homeland”? Where are those nice cops we see on “Law and Order” and “Blue Bloods”? You know – the smart, articulate, ethical ones.
Remember when the people of the Boston metropolitan area were “requested” to stay in-doors after the Boston Marathon bombings while militarized infantry “police” went house to house in Watertown? The police had everything but artillery, hunting for a wounded 19 year old. I remember when cops carried a .38, a night stick and a badge.
Of course everyone did as they were “requested” and stayed indoors, figuring they might have a better chance of being shot by the police if they dared to go out rather than by the suspect. All in all it was nice practice for putting a populace under martial law.
When the wounded perp was finally located hiding in a boat under a tarp, the police fired literally hundreds of rounds in the dark (many of which entered nearby houses) mostly at each other. The two perps (one already deceased) had only one gun between them.
A follower of this blog has a son living in Watertown; she commented on how police came to his door searching for the perp, pointing an automatic rifle at him in front of his family and his dog. One would think the Gestapo was knocking rather than the Watertown Police Department.
Since 9/11 the Federal government has poured tens of billions of dollars into Homeland Security in addition to billions of dollars worth of unneeded military equipment parceled out to local police forces to meet “terrorist threats”. Is there a police department in America without a few armored transport vehicles, a stock pile of automatic weapons, kevlar, night vision goggles, camouflage uniforms, stocks of tear gas and masks? What are the desert camouflage uniforms for? Trying to blend in? Or standout?
P.S. – President Obama ceased the transfer of military equipment to local police departments but President Trump rolled it back.
Washington D.C. day before yesterday
In addition to the wide spread use of military / infantry equipment suitable for the battlefield, the tactics of an occupying army have been imported as well. Security uber alles is now the driving force. (See the video embedded below as military tactics, tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and flash grenades are used to clear Lafayette Park of peaceful demonstrators so that President Trump can walk through the park for a photo op with a bible.)
Glen Greenwald noted in his article on militarization about a year ago: “The dangers of domestic militarization are both numerous and manifest. To begin with, as the nation is seeing in Ferguson, it degrades the mentality of police forces in virtually every negative way and subjects their targeted communities to rampant brutality and unaccountable abuse. The ACLU report summarized: “excessive militarism in policing, particularly through the use of paramilitary policing teams, escalates the risk of violence, threatens individual liberties, and unfairly impacts people of color.”
One gets the feeling that the Ferguson Police believed they were sitting on top of a garbage can, “protecting” us! I’m willing to bet very few of those officers actually lived in Ferguson.
Greenwald further commented on the military presence in St. Paul during the GOP National Convention back in 2008 : “St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas canisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured.”
It was the same at the G.O.P. convention here in Tampa in 2012. Oh you could demonstrate – at the appointed time at the appointed, approved place – miles from the convention center – where no one would see you. And you were to put down your signs and quietly go home when your approved time to demonstrate was up – or risk arrest.
So much for free speech.
So what do we make of all this? After all, this is not Baghdad. And those nice cops on “Law and Order” do not exist – too many are authoritarian types a la cop wannabe George Zimmerman, who is still legally walking around with a gun, apparently taking it upon himself to randomly guard neighborhood businesses at night lest there be a break-in. Or the McMichael father and son who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging.
Now just think what police could do today should there be another massive march on the Pentagon! The “military” police are in place precisely to prevent such “disorder”.
Your constitutional right to peacefully assemble and protest exists only if you get a permit beforehand, carry your signs only where the authorities allow and go home and quietly put away your sign when you are told like good little boys and girls.
Especially if you’re a leftie.
The cops don’t shoot crazy ranchers out West who point guns at them – only brown people and “commies”.
Cops are there only to protect property and the state – not your rights.
Those you have to protect yourself.