Wednesday 20th of June 2018

militarisation of the us police...


militarisation of the us police...

In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of ‘barbering without a license’…

The ubiquity of SWAT teams has changed not only the way officers look, but also the way departments view themselves. Recruiting videos feature clips of officers storming into homes with smoke grenades and firing automatic weapons.


the message is "threat"...

Alexandria, Virginia’s annual big event is its George Washington’s Birthday parade. When I lived there, I usually went. One year, as President Washington passed in his carriage, I gave him a proper 18th-century bow-and-scrape—real conservatives know how to do these things. He was so pleased he stood up in his landau, doffed his hat and bowed to me in return.

It may have been the same year this genial event got skunked. Among the marching units, all festive and gay—old meaning—came the Alexandria Police SWAT team. Accompanied by an armored vehicle, they wore military fatigues, body armor, and helmets. You could watch people physically recoil as they passed. The message their gear proclaimed was “threat.”

All across the country, police departments are militarizing, often with weapons and vehicles bought for the armed forces for war and now declared surplus. To the cops, the equipment is free for the asking. A story in the June 9 New York Timesreported that “During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment, and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” The equipment facilitates the militarizing of police operations. 

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an opportunity for change...

With Ferguson afflicted by such a patchy economic recovery - and a racially unequal one at that - local leaders believe it is little wonder there has been plenty of tinder to feed the fire, writes Andrew West.

US civil rights leader Al Sharpton arrived in Missouri this week, declaring the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager in suburban St Louis to be a "defining moment for this country".

Sharpton, a Pentecostal minister, divides opinion in America and sometimes in the black community itself: he is either a demagogue looking perpetually for an issue or an old-school activist willing to speak uncomfortable truths.

Whatever the case, his declaration has resonated throughout the African-American community, conscious that the historic election - twice - of a black president has changed little when it comes to race relations at neighbourhood level.

"I think the president said when he was elected the first time that his election was not the change that we seek," says another black leader, the Rev. Tommie Pierson of Greater St Mark Family Church, one St Louis's biggest churches, and a Democratic member of the state legislature, "It is the opportunity for change."

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whether these programs are appropriate...

US president Barack Obama has ordered an investigation into whether it is "appropriate" for the military to sell battle-grade hardware to local police, a senior US official says.

The order follows widespread criticism of local authorities' use of military gear in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer.

Images of police wielding military-style guns and armour during clashes with protesters have shocked many American lawmakers and civil rights groups.

The official said Mr Obama "has directed a review of federal programs and funding that enable state and local law enforcement to purchase military equipment".

The review will consider "whether these programs are appropriate", whether training with the equipment is sufficient, and whether there is enough federal oversight of the gear's use.


war on american fat people...

A New York grand jury declined to indict a police officer for the fatal chokehold that killed Eric Garner in Staten Island in part because obesity contributed to his death. You’re on notice, fatties: if you’re not fit, they will acquit the police who kill you.