Restrain Police, Restrain Their Acquisition of War Weaponry

This version is set to a compelling series of images from the protests and response of the National Guard at Kent State in 1969.

Things haven't changed. They've gotten worse. Radley Balko, author of “Overkill: The Rise of the Warrior Cop:The Militarization of America's Police Forces" testified before Congress in 2007 that swat team raids were up 1500% in the past two decades. [More...]

Since the 1981 passage of the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which encourages the military to share with and give local, state and federal police access to military facilities, equipment and training toward fighting the “War on Drugs,” the amount of military equipment that has flooded not just major police departments, but small town police departments, has been startling. Combined with a sense of hyper-paranoia since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and an increased investment in anti-terrorist funding and equipping of local agencies, the notion of the militarized police has went from rhetoric to a fact of life.

A lot of it is military surplus from Iraq (Should we be happy there's less for ISIS?) Swat teams are routinely used for garden-variety arrests. What can go wrong? Here's five examples.

Here are some photos I took of Boston swat teams that came out to play at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Here's the equipment Denver cops ordered for the Democratic Convention in 2008. Denver had cages built to house arrested protesters, dubbed "Gitmo of the Rockies." They had to be stopped from adding barbed wire at the top.

In 2008, this tank was on display in downtown Denver.

Here's a cop that day just walking down the street.

In 2007, the Denver Clerk and Recorder called SWAT teams to stand over the counting of ballots on a marijuana bill.

This is not a new problem. But it's about time people woke up and noticed that this affects everyone, not just protesters and drug dealers. Check out this story from 2013, and the parent's version.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Disarm, disarm, disarm... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:15:34 AM EST
    Disarmament across the board...military, police, citizens...everybody.

    When you've got 100,000 machine guns left over after a war, don't try to find a home for them...dispose of them.  When you've got nuclear warheads left over after the Cold War...dispose of them.  Tanks, warships, warplanes...dispose of them.  And then stop buying them!

    Cuz when the world is awash with enough weapons to arm every man, woman, and child to the teeth...they will be used to kill, like a self fulfilling prophecy.  I'm afraid there can never be no peace without disarmament and ceasing weapons development.

    The police are the propertied (none / 0) (#7)
    by jondee on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:33:08 AM EST
    class's walking walled compounds.

    And the ruling class and it's Fox-watching sycophants often seem to think the more vicious the cops are the better. This state of affairs will probably continue until killer security robots (the machine kind, I mean) become available on the market.

    Lets face it, the moral-spiritual status quo at this point in time in the U.S is that the well-being of things and people obsessed with things is more important than the overall well-being of the people.


    Gotta disagree. The left is late (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:45:31 AM EST
    to the Militarization of the Police.

    Here is Reason.com's coverage of the Militarization of the Police:  584 Articles since 2006.

    Instapundit's Glenn Renyolds: Covering it since 2003.  

    Popular Mechanics just republished an article first printed in 2006:  


    A better link for Reason.com's coverage (3.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:48:05 AM EST
    Perhaps (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:55:02 AM EST
    What is hard for us on the left to understand is why Cliven Bundy and his band of brothers can level assault rifles at the Feds and the Feds order pizza for them but a black kid steals some cigars and is gunned down.

    In 2003? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:43:08 PM EST
    or 2006?  Keep trying.  

    Ok (none / 0) (#13)
    by CaptHowdy on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:52:03 PM EST
    In an article in Sept. 7, 1999 San Francisco Examiner, Harley Sorensen had a column entitled "Paramilitary cops serve themselves, not us" reports that the Pentagon routinely send armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, and M-16 rifles to the police.

    Pretty sure I could find older ones if you like that's just the first one that popped up


    A repost. "America... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:30:08 AM EST
    "The worst part of outfitting our police officers as soldiers has been psychological. Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he'll reasonably think that his job isn't simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger. Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying.

    If officers are soldiers, it follows that the neighborhoods they patrol are battlefields. And if they're working battlefields, it follows that the population is the enemy."

    ... is not for Black People" - Greg Howard

    Funny Thing (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 01:06:13 PM EST
    In Houston, the police have been pushing for more funds so that every cop has a bullet proof vest.  Good idea, until I start wondering where the vest money has gone.  While I don't know, I feel confident that they have armored vehicles and all the the other military grade gear to crush the public should the occasion arise.  Last year a $300,000 drone crashed into a lake, it was never made clear how many they have, or what they use them for.  

    Does this look like a department who can't afford bullet proof vests for it's own ?  Here's the pic behind the pay wall.

    What is funny, even the cops themselves are putting their public crushing fetishes above the safety of their own officers.  The crashed drone could have bought 300 bullet proof vests.

    Not new (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:21:49 PM EST
    Saw Radley Balko on some cable show recently.   One of the things hs said was that one of the more recent manifestations of this the militarization of the PDs of smaller and smaller towns.
    Like mine.  I've mentioned I have coos in my family.  They were very excited recently to have gotten a shipment of assault weapons.

    The all posed for pics with them.  I looked for some on Facebook but they seem to have disappeared,  hmmmm.

    Here's a short article... (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:48:31 PM EST
    from Slate about the sound cannon that the police are using.  Also a video where you can hear the kind of sound it makes right at the beginning. It was developed for military use.

    From Peter G Earlier Today (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by squeaky on Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 09:53:01 PM EST
    Our ACLU won damages for unjustified (unjustifiable) use of that sonic boom, which is a purely military weapon, in city streets, on behalf of a Carnegie Mellon professor who suffered permanent hearing loss.



    Police forces, on the whole, like the military... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 10:07:35 AM EST
    ...need to be completely disbanded then remade in the truthful image of a democratic society. But I ain't holding my breath. The personality type that police forces recruit, this by itself is a danger to the public good.

    A NYT op-ed, (August 14) (none / 0) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:38:17 PM EST
    entitled: "Get Military Off Main Street", by Elizabeth Beavers and Michael Shank, discusses the "1033 program enacted by Congress in 1977 that gifts surplus military equipment to police departments.  And,   there is a surplus  owing to "bloated contracts,"  

     To date, the authors report, $4 billion in military equipment have been donated.  The "1033" program's regulations require police to use what they receive within one year--and they are compliant, using such equipment in routine police work, such as low-level drug raids and execution of warrants.  

    The Department of Homeland Security provides funding for arms, having distributed more than #34 billion through "terrorism grants."   These grants enable local police to obtain tanks and drones.

    Typo correction. (none / 0) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 02:41:13 PM EST
    Passed by Congress in 1997.

    Interesting. Philip Zimbardo's (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:43:42 PM EST
    Stanford Prison Experiment was [also] stopped after six days.

    "One Nation, Under SWAT: (none / 0) (#17)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:54:19 PM EST
    The undemocratic Militarization of the Police"

    Despite evidence that children were present -- a minivan in the driveway, children's toys littering the yard, and a Pack `n Play next to the door -- a SWAT officer tossed a "flashbang" grenade into the home. It landed in 19-month-old Bou Bou's crib and exploded, critically wounding the toddler. When his distraught mother tried to reach him, officers screamed at her to sit down and shut up, telling her that her child was fine and had just lost a tooth. In fact, his nose was hanging off his face, his body had been severely burned, and he had a hole in his chest. Rushed to the hospital, Bou Bou had to be put into a medically induced coma.

    - Matthew Harwood, Tom's Dispatch

    "Laissez-faire with strip-searches: (none / 0) (#18)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:52:51 AM EST
    ... America's two-faced liberalism"

    Only a few days later, though, Justice Kennedy dramatically expanded the government's reach over the individual by deciding to allow federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to force anyone arrested for even the most minor traffic violation to be stripped naked, forced into a delousing chamber, compelled to squat, cough, and lift their genitals under the peering supervision of a jailor. The fundamental values of a liberal democracy, on Justice Kennedy's view, do not require even one iota of reasonable suspicion, before the state can strip its citizens of all dignity, bodily integrity, and personal autonomy.

    In the process, the court adopts weak reasoning, even patently deficient arguments, to support the police-state logic. The fact, for instance, that the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was stopped for driving without a license plate, or that "one of the terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93", is completely irrelevant to the decision whether to impose a requirement of reasonable suspicion before stripping someone arrested for a minor violation. Strip-searching McVeigh or, for that matter, the September 11 terrorist would not have prevented, in any way, those tragedies. Justice Kennedy nevertheless embraces the non-sequitur because it bolstered his police-state logic. In the security realm, "you never know ..." is regarded as a clinching argument.

    - Bernard Harcourt, commenting on Florence v County of Burlington.

    "What I did after Police (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 09:24:34 AM EST
    ... murdered my son"

    Yes, there is good reason to think that many of these unjustifiable homicides by police across the country are racially motivated. But there is a lot more than that going on here. Our country is simply not paying enough attention to the terrible lack of accountability of police departments and the way it affects all of us--regardless of race or ethnicity. Because if a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy -- that was my son, Michael -- can be shot in the head under a street light with his hands cuffed behind his back, in front of five eyewitnesses (including his mother and sister), and his father was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who flew in three wars for his country -- that's me -- and I still couldn't get anything done about it, then Joe the plumber and Javier the roofer aren't going to be able to do anything about it either.