Cross-posted from Mike Malloy
You have to wonder, Truthseeker, why do local police departments need M-16's, grenade launchers, and armored Humvees? The militarization of our local peacekeepers may be partly responsible for the recent uptick in (alleged) over-the-top police violence. Most recently, last night in Ferguson Missouri where protesters -- and reporters -- were subjected to rubber bullets, forcible arrest, and teargas bombs in the wake of the Michael Brown killing last weekend.
Seems the reduction in forces in the "war on terror" means more surplus military equipment. Never to be wasteful (!) the administration decided to send surplus munitions to local police departments, forget whether or not law enforcement officials were trained to use automatic weapons or grenade launchers -- we can't have these ultimate boy toys rusting away in a storage shed!
This is from a June 8th NY Times article:
"Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.
"The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America's 'long season of war,' the former tools of combat -- M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more -- are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.
"During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
"The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of 'barbering without a license.'"
Uhm -- barber shops? As in "drop the clippers or we'll blast you with this flame-thrower and bury your shop with our BIG metal tank?" What the hell is going on, Truthseekers? Reporters last night in Ferguson, MO, while covering the protests following the Michael Brown killing, were hit with teargas and rubber bullets, and some were forcibly arrested without cause, as Huffington Post reports:
"An Al Jazeera America news crew covering the tension in Ferguson, Missouri was hit with tear gas by police on Wednesday.
"The team was reportedly setting up their equipment for a report on the rising tensions when police threw tear gas and fired rubber bullets towards them. Surrounded by a cloud of tear gas, the crew abandoned their cameras and ran to safety.
"'Al Jazeera America is stunned by this egregious assault on freedom of the press that was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on our ability to cover this important story,' the network's Jocelyn Austin said. 'We believe that this situation must be investigated along with those involving our colleagues at other media outlets.'
"Ferguson has become a threatening place for journalists following the protests over the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer. Wednesday night, the Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly and the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery were arrested and assaulted while working in a McDonald's nearby. HuffPost's Christine Conetta was also hit with tear gas Wednesday night at a protest in Ferguson."
This is madness. An unarmed teenager is shot multiple times on the street, with his arms raised and -- according to eyewitnesses -- on the ground, trying to surrender. The community is outraged. Protests form. Some looting and rioting follow. A local police officer taunted and heaped racial slurs on the crowd of mostly black protestors, saying "bring it, all you f^^^ing animals!" Other officers meet the protests with military force and reporters are arrested and tear-gassed.
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