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Turning America Into a War Zone, Where 'We the People' Are the Enemy

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From flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/14924476621/: Peace Officers/ militarized police
Peace Officers/ militarized police
(Image by DonkeyHotey)
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"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you."--Sunil Dutta, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years

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Life in the American police state is an endless series of don'ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun: don't talk back to police officers, don't even think about defending yourself against a SWAT team raid (of which there are 80,000 every year), don't run when a cop is nearby lest you be mistaken for a fleeing criminal, don't carry a cane lest it be mistaken for a gun, don't expect privacy in public, don't let your kids walk to the playground alone, don't engage in nonviolent protest near where a government official might pass, don't try to grow vegetables in your front yard, don't play music for tips in a metro station, don't feed whales, and on and on.

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For those who resist, who dare to act independently, think for themselves, march to the beat of a different drummer, the consequences are invariably a one-way trip to the local jail or death.

What Americans must understand, what we have chosen to ignore, what we have fearfully turned a blind eye to lest the reality prove too jarring is the fact that we no longer live in the "city on the hill," a beacon of freedom for all the world.

Far from being a shining example of democracy at work, we have become a lesson for the world in how quickly freedom turns to tyranny, how slippery the slope by which a once-freedom-loving people can be branded, shackled and fooled into believing that their prisons walls are, in fact, for their own protection.

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Having spent more than half a century exporting war to foreign lands, profiting from war, and creating a national economy seemingly dependent on the spoils of war, we failed to protest when the war hawks turned their profit-driven appetites on us, bringing home the spoils of war--the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc.--to be distributed for free to local police agencies and used to secure the homeland against "we the people."

Is it any wonder that we now find ourselves in the midst of a war zone?

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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