08.14.14

National militarization

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, War On Terror, WhiteManistan at 6:19 pm by George Smith

Racism and over-militarized police forces have combined in Ferguson to produce another uniquely American disaster. The result: A domestic unrest that could easily be duplicated in other cities around the country.

A black American civilian community, justifiably outraged and angry over the killing of one of its own by police was set upon by a thug military-style pacification operation that escalated into a social calamity, literally a crisis of democracy, over a populace’s right to assemble and protest.

In this blog I’ve occasionally touched upon the militarization of America’s police. The war on terror accelerated it, with the Dept. of Homeland Security giveaways of free money (called grants) combining with the Pentagon’s 1033 program to recycle military gear into local police forces so even the smallest town police forces could have access to heavy armaments and armored fighting vehicles.

Locally, I wrote about it in 2012 when the South Pasadena police force got a used Peacekeeper, made by arms manufacturer, Textron, from the Burbank police force which was upgrading to a Lenco BearCat, courtesy of DHS. In the war on terror years, the latter vehicle has been the buy of choice for police departments receiving DHS money. The taxpayer has been very very good to Lenco.

From the blog:

Wha? Even local shires with no significant history of violent crime or threat try to get into the act. The Los Angeles Times informs today that South Pasadena, generally known for its population of swells, tree-lined streets and swank/genteel bungalow homes has acquired an urban combat vehicle for one dollar, sold off by Burbank, which is trading up on homeland security bucks …

[The LA Times]: “Last week the city took delivery of a vehicle known as a Peacekeeper, paying Burbank $1 for the privilege. Burbank originally received the Peacekeeper as surplus from the U.S. Air Force …”The Peacekeeper saw no action during its Burbank years …

“Burbank decided to sell the armored vehicle after it obtained a new BearCat SWAT vehicle in February 2009 through a $275,000 Homeland Security Department grant.”


South Pasadena’s AFV.

Pasadena, like Burbank, has a Lenco BearCat. And, if you live in a city or even if not, you can probably find an armored fighting vehicle in a local police force near you merely by searching Google images. One feature of the militarization of American policing is the wealth of pictures showing it. In modern America, everyone loves to show off their new AFVs.

The net national affect has been intimidation. Intimidation inevitably leads to fear, anger and resistance, sometimes violent. It is a relationship, a vicious cycle, the country, from the top to the bottom, has never learned from.

From Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, military intimidation, overwhelming force and pacification always failed. And in Ferguson (or potentially other cities) it again blew up in our faces. Everyone in local government, from St. Louis, to the governor, made the wrong decisions, repeatedly, and greatly afflicted the black people of Ferguson.

And now it’s another, in a long and repeating history, of national disgraces.

Articles noting this have been published for some time. But like everything else, they have never changed the trajectory of events. More armaments are always better. It’s a dangerous world, “the bad guys” are everywhere, including people you believe to be normal citizens. And the most convenient way to deal with them is to use an armored force, courtesy of US military or DHS giving.

From the Detroit News in 2011:

Warren, Southfield and Washtenaw County each received an armored vehicle after Lt. Darcy Leutzinger, commander of the Warren Police Department’s special response team, got approval for a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security to buy the vehicles.

Each four-wheel-drive vehicle holds up to 25 people and protects its occupants from artillery and gas attacks, Leutzinger said. All three are used frequently in Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties, for situations such as hostage standoffs and drug house raids, he said.

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A police armored personnel carrier in Ann Arbor.

From NBC News, a couple years ago:

America’s most in-demand police vehicle is a 10-officer 16,000-pound armored tank that takes bullets like Superman and drives 80 mph. The federal government buys dozens each year for local police departments. Do America’s local police need tanks?

Every day, America produces a fresh batch of barricaded gunmen, some of whom want to lure police into a shootout. Roughly 50 police officers are killed every year, most in shootings, and many during arrests or ambushes.

Which is where the Lenco BearCat G3 rolls in.


Other criminal justice experts have questioned whether police need minitanks, saying they’re often used for mundane tasks such as serving warrants, and create a sense of police as military soldiers rather than neighbors. They also contend that BearCats and other SWAT machinery do little to prevent violent crimes, which have fallen steadily for a decade.

“It’s all an illusion,” said Jim Fisher, a former professor of criminal justice at Edinboro University and author of a book on SWAT teams. “The fact your police department just bought an armored vehicle does not make you safer. It’s going to make you poorer, because your taxes will go up to pay for training and maintenance.” In light of today’s budget-strapped environments, we, too, wonder whether the federal government should be paying for small counties and towns to have tanks to use against their citizens.

Ferguson has made everyone rush to publish pieces on police militarization, framed by the awful pictures from Missouri.

Has it gone too far? Obviously. But the New York Times, for instance, must assemble a panel of six experts to argue the “Yeses” and “Nos” in a couple paragraphs for its blogs.

“Should law enforcement agencies receive surplus military property for everyday policing in cities and neighborhoods?” asks the newspaper.

The person with the most sense is from the ACLU, Kara Dansky, who has written an extensive report on the matter.

She notes another obvious feature of what has transpired:

We also found — perhaps not surprisingly, given the appalling way in which the war on drugs has targeted communities of color — that people of color were more likely than whites to be impacted by paramilitary raids. More often than not, these violent raids are conducted to serve warrants in search of drugs, disproportionately affecting people of color, despite the fact that whites and people of color use drugs at roughly the same rates.

Near the end of the selection, a former policeman, Eugene O’Donnell, makes a truly appalling suggestion, one as a result of the belief that more military technology in the hands of the police actually cuts risk:

The one truly indispensable military technology the police should hurry into service is reliable nonlethal weaponry – like the Pentagon’s so-called pain ray.

This picture, one of the US military’s “pain rays,” known as the Active Denial System, says everything you need to know.


Yes, this would be just the thing to deploy into American cities to let the community know its safety comes first.

For this blog and other places I used to write about the pain ray, originally called “The Sheriff.”

It took over a decade to develop and was a magnet for a large assortment of ninny tech journalists and cheerleaders who would, in turn, write breathless comment on its greatness after being shot by it in a US military staged dog-and-pony show.

The ADS was deployed to Afghanistan and never used. Some intelligent military leaders recognized it would have been a relations nightmare, playing into the hands of the Taliban.

It’s use would do nothing but horrify and incense the population that was its target. It’s a good example of expensive, impractical technology for torturing, remember, non-lethally.

One can only imagine how much worse it would make things.

What is the answer to increasing militarization? In this country, there isn’t one.

We learn nothing. The country is virtually incapable of change. Sure, today there is the promised Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, something to “end the free transfers of certain aggressive military equipment to local law enforcement …”

In a month, it will be gone.

2 Comments

  1. Ted Jr said,

    August 20, 2014 at 7:39 am

    If, instead of using force to supress dissent, the authorities did the correct thing, which is to eliminate the perceived sense of injustice, then these problems would be less frequent and less severe.

    However that will never happen so these tragedies will continue until the corrupt system is taken down.

    The future does not look bright at all.

  2. George Smith said,

    August 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Agreed. It’s bleak. Bleak is US.