Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson: When The Police Become The Military

By Joan McCarter 

Screenshot of tweet from Brendan Friedman

If the photographs emerging from Ferguson, Missouri, look like some foreign war zone to you, you're not alone. Plenty of former soldiers are seeing it, too.

I don't know how it was in IRQ and AFG, but in Bosnia we had less firepower while on patrol than the cops in #Ferguson

FWIW I led foot patrols in downtown Baquba, #Iraq in 2005-06 w/less firepower than #Ferguson PD (excl fire spt) @CaptainAwwsum @AthertonKD

Paul Szoldra compares his experience in Afghanistan to what he's seeing out of Ferguson:

While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.

We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets? […]

In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, "We are a military force, and we are in control right now." Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.

And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. "The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop," tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.

The same gear is being used on American streets because a monster was created in the defense industry and the monster must be fed. Since 1996, "the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program." Then the equipment was intended to help fight the war on drugs. With that much firepower in the hands of local police, it was only a matter of time before they began to be used in such obscene excess against Americans.

7:59 AM PT:

@joanmccarter My troops were never as well equipped, nor as poorly trained or disciplined as they are. This is something else.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Aug 14, 2014
Also republished by Daily Kos.