As I began reading about and researching the death of Michael Brown the 18 year old from Ferguson, Missouri who was unarmed and gunned down by a police officer, I also began to follow the community’s response. A number of protests, riots, and lootings have taken place in the wake of the teenagers death.
But what has been the most disturbing is the police response to the protesters. Granted the looting and destruction of local businesses is uncalled for and definitely warrants police intervention; however, the police have increased their presence and attention even to those nonviolent protesters. Most recently the police have begun showing up to these rallies and protests in military gear and with military weapons. What-the-fuck?!
Law Enforcement Militarization
The American Civil Liberties Union published a report that detailed how local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged and supported in gaining military equipment. According to them it was the Department of Defense who transferred $4.3 billion dollars in military equipment to police agencies through a 1033 program that was first enacted in 1996 during the “War on Drugs.” And then the Department of Homeland Security offered federal funds for “terrorism prevention” so that police agencies could procure things like armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor.
The problem is that the psychosocial dynamic between law enforcement and citizens is being changed right before our eyes (not that it was all that great to begin with). For what reason would a police officer need an armored vehicle. Are we expecting an invasion?? Civilians cannot possibly obtain any weapon that would require a tank to stop them. So what is the purpose?? Time will tell I suppose but one thing is for sure, if this is going to become a standard practice for law enforcement, then there are going to be major problems.
The only thing that is coming out of this militarizing of the local police is a civil war. History has already shown – during the “War on Drugs” – that increased police aggression combined with agency and judicial support allows police to mutate from law enforcers to packs of savage beasts with a lust for authority and domination. That occurs when you have too many of them together with their department issued firearms and tasers. So what do we think is going to happen when we start suiting these assholes – who are not known for intelligence or peaceful natures – up to play soldier in the streets??
They are going to find an enemy to try out their new toys. Protesters become terrorists that need to be monitored from armored tanks. Citizens become enemies who have to be approached in army gear with huge guns. But remember this is a dynamic. Conversely, what position does that place these citizens in when they are being monitored daily by gun toting police in tanks? What position are they being placed in when they are give curfew? What position are they in when journalists and unarmed citizens are detained without cause or explanation? It puts them in the position of the prey for whom the predatory police are far better equipped to win the hunt. In this dynamic there is justice, peace, or fairness…there is only war.
We had better pay close attention to what’s happening in Ferguson. Not just because it’s fascinating. Not just because we are keeping track of the Brown case. We need to pay attention because what we are watching is an example of how the revolution will begin.
It will start with a single incident of injustice that the community cannot accept. The police will respond with aggression. The community will respond in defense. And the war will come. Blood will be shed. Lives will be lost. The country will stand aghast as the anger and riots spread throughout the country and the dynamic plays itself out again and again in different cities.
We have to pay attention and know now that it won’t take much before the law enforcement ups the ante with their military toys. They won’t wait for us to get violent. They won’t give us an opportunity to utilize our civil liberties (all they have to do is throw around the word “terrorism”). How things play out in Ferguson will be very telling for the future of the struggle. This is only a glimpse of what is to come.
I’m not sayin: I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man