May Day Keeps Militarized Police in the News; ACLU Looking Into Cops and Homeland Security

Lucy Steigerwald, May 02, 2013

Reports from May 1 protests around the US, particularly in Seattle, may look disturbingly familiar to anyone worried about police militarization.

To be fair, this outlet suggests Seattle saw a contingent of aggressive marchers and rioters who were determined to provoke a response from law enforcement. Some protesters allegedly threw bottles and chunks of concrete at police who responded with pepper spray, and potentially-lethal flashbang grenades. Eight officers were injured, and 17 protesters arrested. Maybe some of those 17 deserved it.

But at least since Occupy led to middle class white kids being pepper sprayed, Tasered, and cuffed on Smartphone camera, the militarization of police has become worthy of general debate — and it must be debated. This week it was Mayday, the week before it was the heavy-handed manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers that provoked argument over the rightness of domestic policing turning jackbooted. Less common knowledge, and harder to suss out than police brutality footage on Youtube, though, is the close ties that the Department of Homeland Security has to law enforcement militarization. This is to the tune of billions of dollars in DHS loans for tanks, surveillance, and other tech that have helped turn Officer Friendly into the riot-ready or even war-ready soldiers you see at every protest, and sometimes at your doorstep.

In March, the American Civil Liberties Union launched an investigation into this phenomenon. They’re calling the project “Towns Don’t Need Tanks.” So far they have “[f]iled over 260 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments.”

It didn’t start with DHS, or fears of terrorism, however. Police have looked like soldiers — or even worked with them – since the days of ReaganSeveral 1980s amendments to the post-Reconstruction 1878 Posse Commitatus Act — designed to restrict the armed forces from turning into a domestic police force, ironically enough —  explicitly allow use of drug-fighting military tech by cops. Officers you see today are descended from hysteria and paranoia over narcotics, but they’ve got lots of different jobs to do now.

The Seattle protest perhaps wasn’t the poster child for outrageous police aggression against meek activists. However, it brings all the same questions about the status quo police reaction to nearly every threat. Alright, cops get to use pepper spray and flashbang grenades when they’re getting hit by bottles. But we have to ask where and when law enforcement who look like soldiers won’t be allowed such methods. SWAT and riot tactics are now the appropriate response to nonviolent protest and standing around at your own collegedrug usegambling, graffiti, and cockfighting. So why blink when anarchists in black blocs bring about police violence, too?




12 Responses to “May Day Keeps Militarized Police in the News; ACLU Looking Into Cops and Homeland Security”

  1. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union launched an investigation into this phenomena. They’re calling it “Towns Don’t Need Tanks.” So far they have “[f]iled over 260 public records requests with law enforcement agencies and National Guard offices to determine the extent to which federal funding and support has fueled the militarization of state and local police departments.”

    A little f***ing late to the game, aren't you, guys? It isn't as if this is anything new and earth-shattering or that suddenly appeared on the ACLU radar. Maybe if you'd run with this ten or fifteen years ago, we wouldn't be seeing the omnipresent jackboots with badges on as many street corners as we now do in the aftermath of the recent false fl-, er, "terrist" attacks. Then again, you guys have always been notorious for your selective outrage. Maybe by the time the Police State is in full operation and you're all comfortably ensconced in FEMA camps, you'll get around to rediscovering the true intent of the BoR.

  2. Damn right, liberranter. Where was the ACLU when the Federal-supplied Bradley armored vehicles operated by the ATF and FBI's grossly-misnamed "Hostage Rescue Team" smashed down the Branch Davidian Church in Waco, pumping in CS gas which is rather flammable, or deliberately set fires and incinerating the 76 men, women and children in it? Or when FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi blew Vicki Weaver's head off at Ruby Ridge. Why is this murdering SOB even still alive today drawing a nice gov't pension? And numerous other artocities the Washington has committed against the American people. Yeah, I hope the worthless ACLU jerkoffs have fun in Camp FEMA.

  3. I am not sure what the ACLU's official stance on either incident was — I know that nationally they have no stance on guns, which is terrible. However, in the below clip, Nadine Stossen, then-president of the ACLU defends Weaver to a nasty Bill Maher. I think it's pretty legit.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEHiX5Iukxo

  4. In Montreal, Quebec, they had a kettle and mass arrest of 450 people for 1 May. This nonsense has spilled over north of the border also.

  5. This summer Ray Balko's "Rise of the warrior cop" comes out, sure to be worth a read.

  6. Far cry, no doubt from "Adam-12" and "Dragnet". I know they were just old TV shows and not real, but God, I absolutely detest the stinking militarized, buzz-cut, steroid-popping, power-tripping communist thug cops today. How much more of this out-of-control behavior are people going to take from the government's costumed enforcers as well as government itself? I am effing sick of it!

  7. As a kid, I had great respect for our police. In the hippy era I began to see some of the brutality of our police forces. By the time of the Democratic convention in Chicago, I understood fully why police were called "pigs." And that is what many big city police depts are: pigs. They don't think their mission is to serve and protect the public. In fact, they laugh at the public while using batons, tear gas, tasers, stun grenades on college students and even handicapped elderly citizens. In addition to "pigs," I would call todays cops bullys, thugs, uneducated "muscle" for the new gangs: the politicians.
    William

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