"If we're training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers?"-- Arthur Rizer, former police officer
America, you've been fooled again.
While the nation has been distracted by a media maelstrom dominated by news of white supremacists, Powerball jackpots, Hurricane Harvey, and a Mayweather v. McGregor fight, the American Police State has been carving its own path of devastation and destruction through what's left of the Constitution.
We got sucker punched.
First, Congress overwhelmingly passed--and President Trump approved--a law allowing warrantless searches of private property for the purpose of "making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing."
For now, the scope of the law is geographically limited to property near the Washington DC Metro system, but mark my words, this is just a way of testing the waters. Under the pretext of ensuring public safety by "inspecting" property in the vicinity of anything that could be remotely classified as impacting public safety, the government could gain access to almost any private property in the country.
Then President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions and to the delight of the nation's powerful police unions, rolled back restrictions on the government's military recycling program.
What this means is that police agencies, only minimally deterred by the Obama administration's cosmetic ban on certain types of military gear, can now go hog-wild.
We're talking Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, armored vehicles, and tanks.
Clearly, we're not in Mayberry anymore.
Or if this is Mayberry, it's Mayberry in The Twilight Zone.
As journalist Benjamin Carlson stresses, "In today's Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could be using grenade launchers and a tank to keep the peace."
Contrast the idyllic Mayberry with the American police state of today, where local police--clad in jackboots, helmets and shields and wielding batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, and assault rifles--have increasingly come to resemble occupying forces in communities across the country.
As Alyssa Rosenberg writes for The Washington Post, "[The Andy Griffith Show] expressed an ideal that has leached out of American pop culture and public policy, to dangerous effect: that the police were part of the communities that they served and shared their fellow citizens' interests. They were of their towns and cities, not at war with them."
That's really what this is about: a war on the American citizenry waged by local law enforcement armed to the teeth with weapons previously only seen on the battlefield.
As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, "Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."