The Militarization of Police

ap361908073772Well, the killing of Michael Brown in Missouri has ignited a firestorm  about police transparency and actions.  Today’s post follows some of the stories that are entirely applicable to Hawai`i since HPD bought plenty of weaponry in advance of APEC in 2011. We have never been able to find out exactly what the rules of engagement for those weapons are since Kat’s former Councilperson (Tulsi Gabbard, who was the head of public safety) refused to answer calls and e-mails raising these questions. We are still pursuing this question.  Here are the stories:

The Government Program That’s Equipping Police Like an Occupying Military Force
Sue Sturgis, The American Prospect, August 18, 2014

House Democrat Readies Bill To Demilitarize Local Police
Jennifer Bendery, Huffington Post, August 14, 2014

“WASHINGTON — Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) announced Thursday that he plans to file legislation aimed at stemming the militarization of local police — something on full display this week in Ferguson, Missouri, where officers in riot gear have been showering largely peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.”

Representative Johnson spoke at the June 12th JRI meeting Kat attended in Washington, DC. What Kat loved about him is that he started his talk with “This is about PEOPLE….” .   He will file his bill in September and we need to urge our delegation to support it!

Congress Will Review the Transfer of Military Weapons to Police Forces After Ferguson
Hayes Brown, Nation of Change, August 18, 2014

The matter of Ferguson and arm transfers must be discussed. A review by Congress can’t be silenced or one-sided—this is a serious problem.

“In the aftermath of clashes between heavily armed police forces and protesters in Ferguson, MO, the Senate will review the nearly twenty-five year old law that promotes the transfer of surplus military goods to police forces, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on Friday.”


Ferguson Exposes the Reality of Militarized, Racist Policing
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Nation of Change, August 18, 2014

A bright light needs to be shined on the policies, practices and weaponry that are being used. It’s time for police to serve the people.

“The killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO police officer, who was identified Friday as Darren Wilson, and the aftermath in which nonviolent protesters and reporters were met with a violent and militarized police force have exposed something that has been building for years. Many have written about the militarization of the police and the disproportionate impact they have on people of color, but now more Americans are seeing this reality and cannot escape it.”

Why ‘Shock and Awe’ Policing Fails
Graham Kates, The Crime Report, August 18, 2014

“Law enforcement needs to respect the right of citizens to assemble in peaceful protest—and keep its military hardware out of sight, says a former director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

“James Stewart, who now directs public safety research for CNA Corporation, an Arlington, VA-based nonprofit security research firm that advises military and government agencies, says these are the critical lessons to be drawn from the community-police confrontation in Ferguson, MO, which erupted last week following the police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

“In an extended telephone interview with The Crime Report’s Deputy Managing Editor Graham Kates, Stewart contended that the escalation of violence—which triggered the imposition of a curfew in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, this weekend by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, could have been prevented if police had avoided the kind of crowd-suppression tools usually associated with anti-terrorism—and were willing to be more transparent.

“Stewart, a former Oakland, CA Chief of Detectives, recently led a CNA review of the 2013 death of Tyrone West in Baltimore, MD. Though officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in West’s death, the report — which was commissioned by the city’s police department and was released on August 8 — took the department to task for not releasing information about its investigation, which in turn helped stoke “conspiracy theories” that exacerbated the situation.

“According to Stewart, the Ferguson police might have done well to heed the lessons of his Baltimore report.”


Militarization of the police: it is more than just equipment
streiff, RedState, August 16, 2014

Riot police clear demonstrators from a street in Ferguson“If anything good comes out of the mess in Ferguson it may be a national consensus that American police forces have gradually morphed from a force designed to protect citizens into a heavily militarized force. While much silliness has been spread for the reasons for this — apparently the “North Hollywood Shootout,” in which two heavily armed bank robbers held LAPD at bay for nearly exactly 20 minutes before one was killed and the second wounded and left to bleed out on the pavement justifies combat fatigues, MRAPs and the Dallas Independent School District having its own SWAT team. …

“The real question we should be asking is not whether cops need MRAPs and drones, they don’t. The real question is why American police on American streets have rules of engagement more liberal when it comes to the use of deadly force than those a soldier in Afghanistan works under? If an Afghan was killed under the same circumstances as Michael Brown, the soldier involved and probably his immediate supervisor would be facing a court martial. If you doubt the degree to which our police are militarized ponder that question.”


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