The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) calls U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive order to alter the Department of Defense’s 1033 program because of his supposed commitment to racial justice an affront. The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States through this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression. Therefore, nothing short of complete abolition of this program is acceptable. BAP has demanded abolition of the 1033 program since BAP’s 2017 founding. It now asks the public to sign a petition demanding the Biden administration and Democrats commit to abolishing this racist and brutal program.
Calls for de-militarization of law enforcement have gained new momentum in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality. That process won’t be easy in a nation where nearly one fifth of all cops are military veterans — including Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer in Minneapolis and Robert McCabe, one of two officers charged with felony assault for knocking down a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo. When loaded down with cast-off Pentagon gear, police officers from any background are more likely to regard peaceful protestors as enemy combatants, particularly when the Pentagon’s own top official refers to their protest scenes as “battle space.” But studies show that employing people with experience in war zones abroad has not been a boon to “community policing” either. Getting police departments to stop acting like an occupying army will require many fundamental changes, including much closer screening of job applicants who are veterans and ending their preferential hiring treatment.
On June 18, 2020, at 1 pm, an Oakland judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Order to Show Cause against the Oakland Police Department. The order was filed by civil rights attorneys Dan Siegel and Walter Riley and National Lawyers Guild - San Francisco Bay Area attorney James Burch. This initial victory is part of a larger lawsuit by the attorneys on behalf of two organizational plaintiffs, Anti Police-Terror Project and Community Ready Corps, and individual plaintiffs, Oakland Tech student Akil Riley and protestors Ian Mcdonnell, Nico Nada, Azize Ngo, and Jennifer Li on behalf of themselves and similarly situated individuals. As described by Dan Siegel, "The temporary restraining order issued by the court at 6 pm tonight is an important victory for the people of Oakland and the struggle against police terror.
Nationwide uprisings over the police killing of George Floyd have forced a long overdue discussion about the injustices of U.S. policing—an institution that has consistently harassed and terrorized and, in the words of organizer, writer and educator Mariame Kaba, remains a consistent “force of violence against Black people.” As demands to abolish the police are thrust into mainstream discourse, promising—if uncertain and mixed—political changes are being debated and implemented every day. We are seeing a rigorous interrogation of the systems that uphold and compound the brutality of policing: prisons, austerity, and racial housing segregation. The U.S. military, by far the most well-funded in the world, with roughly 800 bases scattered across the globe, must factor heavily into this conversation.
The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the United States, in light of the police response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. A successful motion, which was backed by 52 votes to 0 with 11 abstentions, says the parliament "stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US". Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP who proposed the successful amendment, said the "weapons of oppression", which the UK government has granted active export licences for, were being used by a "racist state" to "brutalise marginalise communities". The same motion also called for the establishment of a slavery museum in Scotland "to address our historic links with the slave trade".
From their front porches, regular citizens watched a cordon of cops sweep down their peaceful street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rankled at being filmed, the cops exceeded their authority and demanded that people go inside their houses. When some of them didn’t obey quickly enough, the order -- one heard so many times in the streets of Iraqi cities and in the villages of Afghanistan -- was issued: “Light 'em up.” And so “disobedient” Americans found themselves on the receiving end of non-lethal rounds for the “crime” of watching the police from those porches. It’s taken years from Ferguson to this moment, but America’s cops have now officially joined the military as "professional" warriors. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on May 25th, those warrior-cops have taken to the streets across the country wearing combat gear and with attitudes to match. They see protesters, as well as the reporters covering them, as the enemy and themselves as the "thin blue line" of law and order.
The Minnesota National Guard has been activated by Minnesota Governor Timothy Walz. These Minnesota National Guard members report to the governor and can actively take part in law enforcement functions, which they are doing. But now, President Donald Trump is involved too. The president tweeted Thursday night that he "can’t stand back & watch this [the riots] happen to a great city, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the city under control, or I will send in the National Guard and get the job done right." Can he?
Despite Community Protest, Militarized Police Remove Housing Rights Activists From Oakland Home In Pre-Dawn Raid
Members of the advocacy group "Moms 4 Housing" were forceably evicted from a home they were occupying in Oakland early Tuesday morning by armored police, hours after community members turned out in force to show support for the coalition of homeless and marginally housed mothers pushing to end the housing crisis in the Bay Area. "We've built a movement of thousands of Oaklanders who showed up at a moments notice to reject police violence and advocate for homes for families," the group's Twitter account said shortly after the arrests Tuesday.
OAKLAND, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2019) – Activists in Oakland have ramped up efforts to take a first step toward limiting the impact of federal programs that militarize local police. American Friends Service Committee (AFCS) will host a community town hall on policing and military equipment in support of efforts to pass a city ordinance requiring approval by the Oakland City Council for the acquisition of military equipment, and use policies and reporting for military equipment that the Oakland Police Department has or obtains in the future. As AFCS points out, “Oakland has no policy for the acquisition or use of militarized equipment.
Events that transpired Thursday at the Venezuelan embassy in the upscale Washington neighborhood of Georgetown expressed in microcosm the criminality and contempt for international law that characterizes US imperialist operations the world over. US Secret Service agents, Washington’s Metropolitan Police and agents of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, hundreds of armed men, stormed the building to evict four peaceful antiwar activists, part of a larger contingent that had been staying in the embassy for the last month at the invitation of the Venezuelan government.
A recent article in the Mohave Valley Daily News revealed that DHS is using grant money to equip Arizona police departments with military-grade sound cannons or Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD). The Bullhead City Police Department received $54,000 in grant money to purchase a 100X model and a 450XL model LRAD. The mass media has known about DHS's plan to equip police departments with LRADs for more than a decade but has remained largely silent. A Washington Times article from 2009, titled "DHS helps local police buy military-style sonic devices" warned everyone that military-grade sound cannons are being used against Americans.
“On average, militarized police units do not appear to provide the safety beneﬁts that many police administrators claim,” said Jonathan Mummolo, Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, the study’s author. The results of Mummolo’s research may not seem surprising, but they directly contradict the assertions of law enforcement officials across the country, from the local to the federal level. After police responded to the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri with assault rifles and tanks, Col. John Belmar, the top police officer in the county, claimed that military equipment had kept civilians and officers safe during the protests.
On March 14th thousands of students walked out of school to protest gun violence, demanding legislators enact more stringent gun control in the U.S. Later that night, black Brazilian city council member and vocal critic of Brazil’s militarized law enforcement, Marielle Franco, was assassinated. Four days later, 22 year old father of two, Stephon Clark, was shot in his back eight times by the Sacramento Police. While news outlets and social media made note of these murders, the national conversation instead largely focused on the March for Our Lives protest that took place the following weekend. As the media continued to cover the responses to the March for Our Lives, news broke that the two officers responsible for the murder of Alton Sterling would not be facing charges for their use of lethal force that left yet another black father dead.
On March 5, as many as 500 antifascists converged on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing to protest a speech by white supremacist golden boy Richard Spencer. The protesters — including MSU students, campus workers, antifa organizers, and people from surrounding towns — outnumbered those who had come to hear Spencer speak by an order of magnitude. White nationalists were also vastly outnumbered by cops. According to a police document obtained by The Intercept, there were more than 200 cops on hand for the event, from eight different jurisdictions.
After lulling the public into believing that using drones in the U.S. would be confined to border patrol or for counter-terrorism in the event of an imminent threat, we are beginning to see police calling for far wider implementation of drone surveillance. I’ve reported several times about the years-long battle in Los Angeles over the use of police drones. The plan resulted in severe pushback from civil liberties groups such as the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and eventually resulted in an agreement to in fact limit their use to extreme threats and never for surveillance. More recently, Connecticut went much further with a new plan for integrating drones into their fusion center matrix of camera surveillance that would also utilize citizen cooperation into a far-reaching local spy network. Most troubling was the list of “quality-of-life-issues” that included “illegal dumping, ATVs and dirt bikes, motor vehicle violations, narcotics markets, car break-ins and larcenies.” All of which might spark tracking and pursuit by police drone. In a typical step-by-step movement of the Overton window, it’s Brunswick, Maine that would like to usher in a new level of acceptance of an even greater degree of intrusion.