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Re-POST: Over-Fortifying Mayberry!!!

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!

Corrigan:

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.

snip

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.

snip

... 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.”

His listing:

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]

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nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

This is a depressing anecdote from this morning, about an overheard conversation.

I was in the rehab room at the Y, bouncing and moving on an exercise ball as the physical therapist told me to do for some back issues I have. A man of I'd say about 70 years of age lay down beside me to do his exercise and another man of about the same age who was clearly an acquaintance came over and started a conversation. First, it was about raquetball vs. tennis and the like, and then the second man lowered his voice and said something. The first one said, "Yeah, I'm glad I don't have to be out there in a uniform these days." My "I can't help hearing it" turned into active eavesdropping. The men were retired policemen talking about Ferguson.

Next came a long "People should just wait until we know what happened" because we don't know whether he charged or not. The talk drifted into blame for the citizens. I couldn't hear much of what the second man said because he kept his voice low, but it seemed clear that they were sort of feeling each other out about how they felt and the first man was getting more confident stating his opinions.

Then came the statement that I still was astonished by: "If authority tells you to do something, just do it. That's the trouble (that people don't)." These guys were clearly long retired policemen, old enough to remember when no one admitted that America was an authoritarian state.

The conversation went on for a while. "People criticize. Well, they ought to ride around on Saturday night. That would change their minds. People spit on you. . . ." and so on.

Despite all the evidence that the police believe that they have the right to order people around and to enforce their orders with violence, something about hearing a retired policemen chatting about playing tennis three times a week because it's fun and good exercise and then stating that citizens ought to obey any order from authority just really depressed me. It's not just the militarization -- it's the mindset of authoritarian privilege.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Thanks for this. What a troubling attitude. And how completely on the same page they were after all the evidence of police violence finally getting some attention.

Loyalty trumps honesty and generosity every time it would seem in America. An incredible cronyism that aborts critical thinking no matter how much evidence of injustice.

So many people have good faith in the police until they are grazed or bulldozed into shock and horror at an encounter of theirs or their loved ones. Especially with the over-arming of the police and the militarization of the police.

Cops used to arrive with summons and now they arrive in middle of night with a SWAT team. SWAT teams conduct searches, often nothing is discovered. The mere suspicion invites violence. Someone breaks into a home in the middle of the night, it is assumed it is a legally hostile force. Someone is bound to get hurt, but not the heavily armed invaders. Whether there are children in the home is not a consideration. Pets are subdued by shooting them it seems.

The statistics should not be ignored, but they are. TRUTHINESS still prevails.

In NYC you know if there was a death caused by a cop the politicians will be out there declaring the innocence of the police. Whatever Israel or the police do has 100% backing of the NYC government.

Participating some in OWS demonstrations, one got a taste of the constant strong and menacing presence of the police. I missed the physical conflict during my visits. But even that story of the woman that got groped on the breast and elbowed a policeman rough-handling her is incredible. She was not allowed to bring up her injury by him or his record of over-use of force in her own trial. She was convicted.

Like Brad Manning pointing out murder in Iraq by US soldiers. The whistleblowers of a dark reality are readily prosecuted.

I remember walking along Lexington Ave. on my way to work late one afternoon and there was a heavily armed group of soldiers/cops talking in a circle with the helmets lifted up and machine guns in their arms and bullet proof vests on. They were talking and joking and it was such an odd sight in the middle of a Manhattan busy weekday street. They took up the entire area of a large sidewalk near a subway and people were walking around them.

I stopped and asked nodding and smiling what on earth was going on to bring them here dressed that way. They suddenly all looked at the ground. There were about a dozen of them. Mostly younger than I but a few older. Black and white. No one answered, just a big fat awkward silence. I said, "You can't tell me why you are here and dressed like this?"

Suddenly, one of the young guys pointed at Bloomingdale's across the street, and joked, "There's a shoe sale today, ma'am, and we came to protect you!" Then they all laughed as if this was hilarious. I furrowed my forehead and when the yuks subsided I said, "Seriously, please." Finally, one of the older men, not looking me in the eye mumbled, "Training." That was as good as I was going to get. I walked away needing to get to work. But it was not only their evasiveness, but their total shock and awe that I had had the nerve apparently to stop and inquire. They handled it like they were naughty toddlers caught in the cookie jar. WTF???

Once I was trying to get across town and there was a 5th Ave. parade going on. I stopped by a young police officer to ask him if he knew what cross streets were open periodically to cross to the west side. He just stared at me without expression. He wouldn't answer even after I repeated the question. Talk about disconcerting. Now most cops are amiable enough when a citizen approaches with a question. But the fact that this one just went zombie-like was weird. Did he not know and would not admit it? Had he no social skills at all? Are social skills with civilians no longer a consideration? .

best, libby

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. (Japanese proverb)

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I was reading a while back about some police in Texas executing a "no Knock warrant" at night. They came in a window and the homeowner shot them...so they were charged with murder!

I mean, really, WTF?

Have they no common sense at all?

This has become a real problem. I understand that the police in Ferguson (via HuffPo) beat up a guy and then charged him for bleeding on their uniforms. The entitled attitude that the police seem to take these days with regard to their duties will not end well.

Submitted by lambert on

... they charged a guy for bleeding on their uniforms!

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi