The militarized response to protests and media coverage in Ferguson, Missouri has forced the federal government to rethink its policy of sending military hardware to police departments.
“I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message,” said Attorney General Eric Holder after police manhandled demonstrators, gassed a media crew, and used rubber bullets on protesters and journalists.
Following criticism by Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, and the introduction of legislation to curtail police militarization by Georgia Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson, Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his committee will a design a program to determine if the Defense Department’s surplus equipment is being used appropriately.
“Our Main Streets should be a place for business, families and relaxation, not tanks and M16s,” Johnson said Thursday. “Militarizing America’s Main Streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful and more reticent.”
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and others have criticized the Pentagon effort to turn domestic police forces into occupying armies.
“Big government has been at the heart of the problem,” Paul notes. “Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.”
“The federal government fuels this trend,” Kara Dansky, a senior counsel at the ACLU’s Center for Justice writes for The New York Times. “The police have virtually unlimited access to the U.S. military’s arsenal through what’s called the 1033 program. They also have access to billions of dollars’ worth of funding from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, which they can use to buy military equipment from weapons manufacturers, who line their pockets with the spoils. Through these federal programs, hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed to local police departments, which have been stockpiling their arsenals with weapons designed for combat.”
Police State: Political Control
The unprecedented militarization of police is widely attributed to the so-called Drug War and, following the 9/11 attacks, the threat of terrorism. The corporate media cites both when attempting to explain why police departments are heavily militarized.
Overlooked is the fact militarized police were deployed in Ferguson in response to citizens challenging the government. Journalists and demonstrators were specifically targeted. Militarized St. Louis County police were tasked with maintaining order — not for citizens and shop owners victimized by looters — but for the state.
“Far from being a benevolent entity concerned with the well-being of its citizens, whether in matters of health, safety or security, the government is concerned with three things only: power, control and money,” writes John W. Whitehead.
“Unfortunately, the master-servant relationship that once had the government answering to ‘we the people’ has been reversed. Government agents now act as if they are the masters and we are the servants. Nowhere is this more evident than in the transformation of police officers from benevolent keepers of the peace to inflexible extensions of the military hyped up on the power of their badge.”
As Infowars and others have reported, the government is preparing for social unrest as the financial elite continue to asset strip the United States and Europe and send jobs to third world totalitarian states such as China.
Government has planned for social unrest and violence in response to the destruction of the economy and the erosion of the middle class in America. Political opposition to economic warfare waged by the elite is now considered terrorism.
Under the guise of responding to terrorism and natural disaster, the federal government has implemented a classic police state.
“Apparently, the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough,” then Rep. Ron Paul wrote in 2009. “Even though we know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next.”
Ferguson televised the ugly face of militarized cops wielding flashbangs and automatic weapons. A few members of Congress say they want to put a lid on over-the-top domestic police militarization.
More than providing military freebies to cops, the federal government’s 1033 program is designed to merge and blur the distinctions between federal and state and local law enforcement. The frontline with its police in combat gear signals how far the state will go to make sure it retains control.
Short of a dedicated and large political movement to disarm the state and demilitarize the police, the global elite will continue the effort to construct and all-encompassing police state. In addition to rolling back the deployment of combat cops, this political movement needs to address the entire police state panoply — from the NSA and wholesale surveillance to the predominance of the military-industrial (and now surveillance) complex and all its facets.