According to Zac Corrigan in “Militarization of police in America” the Pentagon under the Obama administration is equipping -- OVER-EQUIPPING -- US police departments across the country with former overseas military weaponry and vehicles.
The ominous dots aren’t hard to connect for any of us paying the least bit of attention to the dramatic and merciless economic polarization in America along with the escalation of inappropriate and inhumane lethal force by the police.
Corrigan reveals that since the crash of 2008 95% of all income gain has gone to the world’s richest 1%. In 2013, the billionaire class, 442 members who live in America, increased their wealth by $1 trillion.
At the same time more and more Americans have sunk and are sinking into “official poverty”. An “official” underestimation, according to Corrigan, is 15%.
Last November a callous Congress cut the food stamps budget by $4 billion. Health care costs continue to increase, pensions are being slashed, public schools are being exploited by corporations for profit and living wage employment is steadily disappearing.
Corrigan goes on about how the youth of America face “crushing debt” and “miserable job prospects.” “Authoritarian court rulings” are eliminating citizen protections and rights. Corrigan mentions the profiteering oligarchs decimating Detroit and the recent elimination of tenure for teachers in California.
He cites a recent New York Times article that asserts that though crime “has fallen to its lowest levels in a generation” and there are far fewer incidents of domestic terror than in the 1960s and 1970s, police SWAT teams are too readily deployed for “routine” jobs, “tens of thousands of times” each year.
We have all heard of the ruthless and terrifying practices of the US military in foreign countries. The wars of US imperialism are about increasing, maintaining and/or protecting the power and profit of the US financial oligarchy. Brutal and violent practices were and still are used against so-called “hostile forces”, that is, often hapless or outraged and violated, inconvenient to the oligarchs, innocent citizens such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If you think such merciless practices are not coming to, or more accurately, not escalating in “any town” or “any city” USA, think again!
The ACLU estimates that police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams engage in between 70,000 and 80,000 “no-knock raids” each year—bursting into homes unannounced, often at night. This figure is up from 50,000 in 2005 and 3,000 in 1981.
The police in America already kill an average of one to two people every day. Investigations regularly reveal excessive use of force, or gunning down unarmed victims as they flee.
Corrigan reveals, citing ACLU research, that SWAT team raids only result in a fraction of charges filed. But they certainly manage to terrorize citizens as well as often physically hurting them and their families, invading their privacy and harming their property.
Corrigan provides some recent atrocities by the police:
On March 16, police shot a homeless Albuquerque, New Mexico man in the back, killing him.
On May 20, three police officers in Salinas, California shot a migrant worker to death at close range as he backed away from them.
During a routine traffic stop on May 11, five California Highway Patrol officers beat to death Tommy Yancy, a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The list goes on.
... on June 4 of this year—over a $50 drug sale—police in Habersham County, Georgia threw a “flashbang” stun grenade—originally developed for wartime raids—into a crib where it exploded in a two-year-old child’s face. Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh is still in a medically induced coma.
In 2010, a police SWAT team threw a stun grenade through the window of a Detroit home, setting fire to the blanket of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones, who was sleeping on a couch next to her grandmother. Seconds later, the SWAT team stormed through the door and shot Aiyana through the neck, killing her.
In 2006, the home of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was raided on the basis of a fabricated tip. She did not realize the men entering her home were police officers, and she pulled a gun on them. The Atlanta police gunned her down.
Eastern Kentucky University professor Peter B. Kraska has revealed that as of the late 1990s 89% of police departments in the US that serve populations of 50,000 or more employ PPUs, “Police Paramilitary Units.” This percentage is double that of the mid-1980s.
“Police Paramilitary Units” have increased in police departments serving between only 25 and 50,000 people to 80%. They were only at 20% in the mid-1980s.
Corrigan provides still more statistics. Last week a New York Times article, aforementioned, revealed Pentagon “minimum” data that military weaponry, vehicles, etc. have been distributed to state and local police since 2006. Much of this LETHAL equipment has gone to “small city and county police departments.”
93,763 machine guns
180,718 magazine cartridges
hundreds of silencers
unknown number of grenade launchers
533 planes and helicopters
432 MRAPs—9-foot high, 30-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles with gun turrets. Corrigan reveals that last November Neenah, Wisconsin with population of 25,000 was given an MRAP. Ohio State University campus police received an MRAP. Such armored vehicles are worth $500,000 each. The basic vehicles are worth $200,000 million each.
Walsh County, North Dakota population 11,000 was given 40 silencers.
Police forces in six states were given magazines that carry 100 rounds of M-16 ammunition. This allows officers “to fire continuously for three times longer than normal.”
Do you honestly not think there is a method to such MILITARIZING MADNESS?
Will we all become acclimated to and helpless to push back against Gestapo tactics and outrages from this super-militarized police force promoting and protecting -- exclusively and violently -- the rapacious needs and will of oligarchical overlords?
[cross-posted on open salon]