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We Awaken to National Militarization of Police, Not Only in Ferguson

August 27, 2014 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

We may eventually know the actual facts in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by policeman Darren Wilson in the Missouri town of Ferguson, but the widely publicized full-scale war on protesters there by the police has finally begun to alert Americans of all backgrounds to the militarization of law enforcement in many areas of our nation.

Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, founder and president of civil liberties defender The Rutherford Institute, has been reporting often on this aggrandizement of our police:

“This is not just happening in Ferguson, Missouri. As I show in my book ‘A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,’ it’s happening and will happen anywhere and everywhere else in this country where law enforcement officials are given carte blanche to do what they like, when they like, how they like, with immunity from their superiors, the legislators and the courts …

“We’ve not only brought the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan home to be used against the American people. We’ve also brought the very spirit of the war home” (“Turning America Into a War Zone, Where ‘We the People’ Are the Enemy,” Whitehead, Rutherford.org, Aug. 20).

Also reporting on police militarization is Walter Olson of the Cato Institute (where I am a senior fellow):

“Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo., so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (‘ “This is my property!” he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.’) (“Police Militarization in Ferguson — and Your Town,” Olson, Cato.org, Aug. 13).

Olson added: “The dominant visual aspect of the story, however, has been the sight of overpowering police forces confronting unarmed protesters who are seen waving signs or just their hands.”

Meanwhile, in a recent op-ed in Time, senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul noted: “There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement. Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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