The Obama administration is forcing the city of Ferguson, Missouri, to return two military vehicles previously obtained from the Pentagon that were used this week against protesters in the St. Louis suburb. Although the Defense Department ordered Ferguson to return a pair of Humvees in June, similar military-style vehicles were deployed Sunday night, on the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer.
On Sunday, as protests against racial profiling and police brutality turned violent, an 18-year-old man allegedly opened fire on an unmarked police SUV before being shot and critically injured by police. St. Louis County declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon.
The Humvees were initially distributed as part of a national program to provide surplus military equipment and weapons to local police departments. Pentagon officials recalled the vehicles after discovering the city had been given twice as many vehicles in 2013 without proper federal authorization. “They have simply informed us they will be taking them back” Jeff Small, a spokesman for Ferguson, told the Guardian in an email.