The Transfer of Military Surplus to Domestic Police [Infographic]

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Mike from CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com created and shared the infographic below, which does an excellent job at making visible the growth of paramilitary policing in the USSA.

“The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
– James Madison, the Federalist Papers

from mayberry to martial law

 

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The Transfer of Military Surplus to Domestic Police [Infographic]

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Mike from CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com created and shared the infographic below, which does an excellent job at making visible the growth of paramilitary policing in the USSA.

“The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
– James Madison, the Federalist Papers

from mayberry to martial law

 

.
copblock-banner-320x90-groups
No permission is needed to share this post, or any content housed at CopBlock.org. Ideas have consequences – the more good ideas are shared the better we all are. Help fuel our efforts – donate Bitcoin: 1D6hdGKcFfzciJaMSLU6X1Tq69fcCsEh65

Police Unnecessarily Escalate Violence at Pumpkin Fest 2014 Riots

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Ian Freeman, host of FreeTalkLive.com,  shared the content below.

Date of Incident: 2014-10-18
Individuals Responsible: Countless

Matthew Bomberg and Gang Tackles, Kidnaps Man for Walking Down Sidewalk

Matthew Bomberg and Gang Tackles, Kidnaps Man for Walking Down Sidewalk

Alex Moushey’s report from the streets during the Pumpkin Fest 2014 riots reveal why the situation did not improve with the police’s unnecessarily violent tactics.

Rather than only arresting people who were causing violence and destruction, the police were targeting people crossing arbitrary lines and partying on private property.

For ongoing Pumpkin Fest riot coverage, please visit Free Keene.

In this excellent ten-minute video, Alex is right there when cops create all kinds of unnecessary mayhem:  (click links below to jump to that part if you are short on time)

  • They shoot pepperballs at party houses on Winchester St – completely unnecessary – those people were on private property and not in the road.  It’s arguable that pepperballs are useful to clear a crowd who won’t leave a street and indeed, blocking streets is one of the reasons the “disorderly conduct” statute exists, but the people at these houses were just enjoying themselves.  The use of pepperballs in this situation is just aggressive.
  • Guy walking down sidewalk is violently arrested by a throng of cops – This guy is literally just walking down the sidewalk.  He’s hasn’t threatened anyone and is not blocking the street.  The reason he can’t walk down the sidewalk is, well, because the men with guns say so.  The reason the cops decide to jump him like he’s strapped with a bomb is, because they can.

It’s behavior like this from police that alienates them from average people.  This is why Cop Block is so popular on campus.  Here are the students’ sensible responses to the violence that was visited upon them by the police:

“We’re not terrorists.  We love America.  We just like to drink!  Don’t shoot us!”

There’s a reason why the young ladies in the video think that the police are “pieces of shit” because they hurt their peaceful friends – every weekend, not just Pumpkin Fest.  If all the police did was arrest people who hurt others or destroy property, it wouldn’t be as big a deal if they cleared some streets with pepperballs, but the adrenaline-hyped cops seem to have a penchant for escalating a situation.  There’s more footage showing police attacking people for walking peacefully long after the riots had subsided – I’ll upload that soon enough.

Stay tuned to Free Keene for the latest on the Pumpkin Fest Riots of 2014.

Connect with Keene Based Groups

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Click for related Know Your Rights videos and content.

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Police are acting like an occupying army in northeast Pennsylvania. It isn’t working

Monday, October 20th, 2014

The content below was written by Scott McPherson and originally posted to Patch.com.

Eric Frein Slips Through Police Fingers: Police are acting like an occupying army in northeast Pennsylvania. It isn’t working

by Scott McPherson

According to Pennsylvania State Police, six weeks ago Eric Frein ambushed two state troopers outside a Pike County police barracks, killing one officer and severely wounding another. Frein is then said to have fled into the surrounding woods, putting to use his self-taught “survivalist” training to escape capture.

State Police responded immediately, massing hundreds of officers into a 5-square mile radius, employing armored vehicles, night vision equipment, and even local hunters in an attempt to capture the alleged gunman, believed to be hiding in the dense woodlands of the Poconos Mountains.

No expense has been spared in this search. The manhunt has become so expensive – now running into the “millions of dollars” – that lawmakers in the state are becoming a little uneasy.

Nor have area residents been spared. Those at home when the manhunt began were put on “lock down,” while others have been blocked from returning to their homes. Many have expressed understandable frustration over the way they’ve been treated.

“They walk through the house, they walk through the property, checked out the basement,” said Kent Van Horn.

Schools have been closed, police officers line the roads and man numerous roadblocks, and generally act as an occupying army in the area. Even Halloween events have been put on hold.

“We will find you,” was the message from Lt. Col. George Bivens, on September 26.

But six weeks into the search, police still don’t have their man.

police-state-pennsylvania

Pic via http://holbrook.wickedlocal.com

A report on the case Saturday from Fox News has revealed an interesting new development. A woman claims to have spotted Frein “with his face caked in mud and carrying a rifle” near his old high school in the town of Swiftwater. Police say it is a credible sighting. “Based on the sighting, Bivens said it appears Frein has moved about six miles south. He said the search area is being expanded…”

Which means that despite all police efforts, Frein slipped through their cordon.

The search for Eric Frein – and the behavior of law enforcement officials – is reminiscent of events in Boston last year, when two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring over 260 others. After that incident, the entire city was put under virtual martial law, with thousands of police officers and numerous armored vehicles roaming the streets in a massive search for the suspects, pointing assault weapons at city residents, ordering them into their homes, closing businesses, and shutting down the public transportation system.

Only after the lock down was rescinded – and police left the area — was suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spotted by a private citizen, who immediately alerted authorities to his whereabouts.

There may be a lesson in this for Pennsylvania authorities. Massing a small army to search for one man, even a dangerous criminal, may not be as effective a measure as backing off and letting the public’s eyes and ears do your work for you.

While acting like thugs and treating the local population like pawns, to be ordered about and cower in compliance, must be somewhat gratifying to people who make their living lording it over others, and who are no doubt frustrated and afraid that a member of the civilian population has targeted them for attack, it doesn’t appear to be the most efficacious approach.

This would certainly never be the reaction to the murder of a mere mundane, which happens far, far more often in this country than attacks on police.

The vast majority of crimes are solved not by the police response, but by tips from the public.

Millions of dollars, hundreds of officers, roadblocks, lock downs, and police-state tactics turned up nothing for six weeks. Eric Frein has made a mockery of law enforcement efforts to apprehend him. But just as in Boston, one alert citizen changed the game.

Maybe the police should stop behaving like soldiers in a war zone. People are growing increasingly tired of that.

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Are The Police Actually Needed?

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The content below was shared by Matt Winkeljohn, who authored and originally posted it to ResistTheTyranny.com, a site “dedicated to bringing you some of the up to date news and videos about government atrocities in the United States.  You are not going to find left or right bias here, as they are all criminals on the hill.”

Connect with Resist The Tyranny on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or via email: resistthetyranny76@gmail.com

_________________________

ARE THE POLICE ACTUALLY NEEDED?

by Matt Winkeljohn

With nationwide rampant police misconduct and the growing concerns about excessive force and militarization, are we at a point in this country where we would be better off without the police?

Let’s first look at what most people believe that we, as a nation, gain from having a massive police presence…

The average day for the vast majority of police, is sitting in his or her patrol car and stopping motorists for traffic violations.  This usually consists of the motorist illegally talking on their cell phone, running a red light or exceeding the speed limit… Not actually harming anyone.  It is then the cops duty to turn on their obnoxious and distracting lights and sirens, pulling out in to busy traffic (or making an illegal u-turn) and while talking on his/her radio and using a laptop, also breaking the speed limit in order to catch you and pull you over.  They do this in an attempt to teach you a lesson in safe driving practices.  Irony?

Most people are led to believe that this sort of thing is necessary to the “safety” of the people, when in fact, it is counterproductive and more unsafe than the initial reason most people are pulled over.

The remaining number of police who are not covered under the above statement, either work at a desk or are detectives.

Detective work is something that is universally needed however.

If a real crime is actually committed and the person who was violated isn’t able to identify the criminal, then someone has to find out who committed the crime.

These “detectives,” with the help of a crime scene unit, then collect evidence and statements in order to begin an investigation in to the crime.

Since we have now established that the small minority of police that actually do any good are ones that respond after a crime has already been committed, let’s look at Acapulco, Mexico.

The police in Acapulco recently went on strike and the people couldn’t be happier!

The following is from Jeff Berwick, the chief editor of The Dollar Vigilante.

resist-the-tyranny-are-police-needed-acapulco-copblock It all started over a month ago, right here in Acapulco, Mexico, when I commented to a good friend, “Have you noticed how much better traffic has been lately?”

He responded, “Yes, traffic flow has been so much better… it’s because the Transit Police went on strike.”.

It turned out that was the case.  The Transit Police in Acapulco had went on strike and all of a sudden many local residents were noticing how much better traffic, which can get to gridlock levels during peak holiday periods, had become.

Weeks went on and you could tell that almost everybody had become aware of the lack of transit police and no one was adhering to red lights if there wasn’t any oncoming traffic.  The majority of people began treating red lights like a “yield” sign.  They’d slow down, check that no cars were coming, and if there weren’t, they’d just roll through the red light instead of sitting there for a minute or two, as traffic backed up behind them.

But, it got even better.  The municipal police also then went on strike… and no one noticed.

I mentioned to my friend how much everything has been so much better in Acapulco for the last few months and said people just seem happier and I assumed it was just because traffic was flowing so much better.  He then said, “Actually, the municipal police are on strike now too… so people are probably just a lot happier in general because there isn’t really anyone around to bother them.”

Those who believe that police are necessary to the safety of a community will surely think that crime must have gotten worse there, but that’s not the case at all.

resist-the-tyranny-are-police-needed-copblockWhen you take in to consideration that police in the United States look more like a military unit these days than anyone who is there to actually protect you, the thought of getting rid of police seems like a pretty good alternative.

Every day, the American people are being faced with an ever growing militarized police state.  These police will point guns in your face, taser you and beat you, all for not showing an I.D….even when you don’t have to.

The ones in their patrol cars are, at best, hypocritical thieves who break more laws than you do when they pull you over, threaten you with kidnapping and then extort money out of you by stacking charges against you and revoking your freedoms on the side of the road.

This is all paid for by your tax dollars.  You are paying to be treated like criminals.  You are paying to be guilty until proven innocent.

As the video below details, you are paying in more ways than you even realize.

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Are The Police Actually Needed? is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Jermaine Carby Killed by Peel Police Employee, Called “Toronto’s Michael Brown”

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Remy Mckenzie shared the information below via CopBlock.org/Submit about an incident in Ontario that unfortunately, is far too common – a person traveling being stopped (almost without exception, for a non-crime), then brutalized, tasered, or shot, then no information released from “the authorities” as they sit by until attention dies down a bit and they work to concoct a narrative, while the incident is “investigated” by other “authorities” who are incentivized to side not with the truth, but with others who subsist via the political means.

Date of Incident: September 24, 2014
Individual Responsible: Unknown, information not released to media or family
Outfit: Peel Regional Police
Phone: (905) 453-3311

Jermaine was the passenger not the driver as news reports are trying to falsely state. I attended his funeral today and the family states he was shot 4-5 times and tasered twice once he was down.

peel-police-watch-jermaine-carby-copblock

Peel Police Watch posted this message about the killing

His cousin La Tanya Grant has taken pictures of his body after the 5 days it took the coroner to release his body to the family and the incision marks are not of a typical autopsy and it seems some organs have been removed. The police are trying to say he was driving (he was the passenger) and was shot twice (he was actually shot 4 or 5 times) but reports seem altered from law enforcement.

From a write-up at CP24.com:

Richard Appleby, another witness at the scene told CP24 that he heard the police officers say “Drop the knife” a couple of times and words to the effect of “Don’t make us shoot.”

“He walked slowly towards them with both arms stretched,” said Appleby. “I was too far to see a knife. It might have been small.”

One woman, Latisha, who did not want to give her last name said she was driving by on Queen Street when she saw the man come out of his car with his hands raised above his head.

“He had his hands up… saying ‘What?’ to the cops and he started walking towards them,” said Latisha. “As I drove by, I didn’t get to look back but I just heard gunshots, like five gun shots.”

Jermaine’s cousin La Tanya Grant asked where – if there was a knife – is it? Why the censorship?

They are using his criminal past from another province to victim shame and provide the picture of a dangerous violent criminal, including the manslaughter charges (which if investigated properly the victims stab wounds would not match a person of Jermaine’s height of 6’4″).

Because this is Canada they paint a picture of non prejudice which is a lie! Black people here get stigmatized just as much as African Americans because of the reputation internationally of African Americans.

The incident is now being “investigated” by employees of the Special Investigations Unit.

police-investigate-themselves-copblock

This picture was shared by Advocates Against Police Corruption Canada – Cop Block

Please contact La Tanya Grant on Facebook for more info this case is being pursued by the family and we need help and awareness. Please investigate and spread the word its not ok to shoot unarmed people based on race prejudice and fear!

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Jermaine’s mom (left) and cousin La Tanya Grant (center)

Related Content:

Known Canada-Based Police Accountability Groups:

 

Jermaine Carby Killed by Peel Police Employee, Called “Toronto’s Michael Brown” is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

To Terrify and Occupy: How the Excessive Militarization of the Police Is Turning Cops Into Counterinsurgents

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Patti Silliman shared a link via CopBlock.org/Submit to a piece authored by  Matthew Harwood, which opened by outlining the needless killing of Jason Westcott. Harwood’s entire write-up seemed worth sharing with readers of CopBlock.org, thus he was contacted via Twitter and asked if it could be cross-posted. Harwood agreed.

To Terrify and Occupy: How the Excessive Militarization of the Police Is Turning Cops Into Counterinsurgents

by Matthew Harwood, originally posted to TomDispatch.com on August 14, 2014.On Twitter, follow Matthew Harwood @MHarwood31 and Tom Dispatch

Jason Westcott was afraid.

One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott’s handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”

Around 7:30 pm on May 27th, the intruders arrived. Westcott followed the officers’ advice, grabbed his gun to defend his home, and died pointing it at the intruders.  They used a semiautomatic shotgun and handgun to shoot down the 29-year-old motorcycle mechanic.  He was hit three times, once in the arm and twice in his side, and pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

The intruders, however, weren’t small-time crooks looking to make a small score. Rather they were members of the Tampa Police Department’s SWAT team, which was executing a search warrant on suspicion that Westcott and his partner were marijuana dealers. They had been tipped off by a confidential informant, whom they drove to Westcott’s home four times between February and May to purchase small amounts of marijuana, at $20-$60 a pop. The informer notified police that he saw two handguns in the home, which was why the Tampa police deployed a SWAT team to execute the search warrant.

In the end, the same police department that told Westcott to protect his home with defensive force killed him when he did. After searching his small rental, the cops indeed found weed, two dollars’ worth, and one legal handgun — the one he was clutching when the bullets ripped into him.

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality.

The War on Your Doorstep

The cancer of militarized policing has long been metastasizing in the body politic.  It has been growing ever stronger since the first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were born in the 1960s in response to that decade’s turbulent mix of riots, disturbances, and senseless violence like Charles Whitman’s infamous clock-tower rampage in Austin, Texas.

While SWAT isn’t the only indicator that the militarization of American policing is increasing, it is the most recognizable. The proliferation of SWAT teams across the country and their paramilitary tactics have spread a violent form of policing designed for the extraordinary but in these years made ordinary. When the concept of SWAT arose out of the Philadelphia and Los Angeles Police Departments, it was quickly picked up by big city police officials nationwide.  Initially, however, it was an elite force reserved for uniquely dangerous incidents, such as active shooters, hostage situations, or large-scale disturbances.

Nearly a half-century later, that’s no longer true.

In 1984, according to Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop, about 26% of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had SWAT teams. By 2005, that number had soared to 80% and it’s still rising, though SWAT statistics are notoriously hard to come by.

As the number of SWAT teams has grown nationwide, so have the raids. Every year now, there are approximately 50,000 SWAT raids in the United States, according to Professor Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. In other words, roughly 137 times a day a SWAT team assaults a home and plunges its inhabitants and the surrounding community into terror.

Upping the Racial Profiling Ante

In a recently released report, “War Comes Home,” the American Civil Liberties Union (my employer) discovered that nearly 80% of all SWAT raids it reviewed between 2011 and 2012 were deployed to execute a search warrant.

Pause here a moment and consider that these violent home invasions are routinely used against people who are only suspected of a crime. Up-armored paramilitary teams now regularly bash down doors in search of evidence of a possible crime. In other words, police departments increasingly choose a tactic that often results in injury and property damage as its first option, not the one of last resort. In more than 60% of the raids the ACLU investigated, SWAT members rammed down doors in search of possible drugs, not to save a hostage, respond to a barricade situation, or neutralize an active shooter.

On the other side of that broken-down door, more often than not, are blacks and Latinos. When the ACLU could identify the race of the person or people whose home was being broken into, 68% of the SWAT raids against minorities were for the purpose of executing a warrant in search of drugs. When it came to whites, that figure dropped to 38%, despite the well-known fact that blacks, whites, and Latinos all use drugs at roughly the same rates. SWAT teams, it seems, have a disturbing record of disproportionately applying their specialized skill set within communities of color.

Think of this as racial profiling on steroids in which the humiliation of stop and frisk is raised to a terrifying new level.

Everyday Militarization

Don’t think, however, that the military mentality and equipment associated with SWAT operations are confined to those elite units. Increasingly, they’re permeating all forms of policing.

As Karl Bickel, a senior policy analyst with the Justice Department’s Community Policing Services office, observes, police across America are being trained in a way that emphasizes force and aggression. He notes that recruit training favors a stress-based regimen that’s modeled on military boot camp rather than on the more relaxed academic setting a minority of police departments still employ. The result, he suggests, is young officers who believe policing is about kicking ass rather than working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. Or as comedian Bill Maher reminded officers recently: “The words on your car, ‘protect and serve,’ refer to us, not you.”

This authoritarian streak runs counter to the core philosophy that supposedly dominates twenty-first-century American thinking: community policing.  Its emphasis is on a mission of “keeping the peace” by creating and maintaining partnerships of trust with and in the communities served. Under the community model, which happens to be the official policing philosophy of the U.S. government, officers are protectors but also problem solvers who are supposed to care, first and foremost, about how their communities see them. They don’t command respect, the theory goes: they earn it. Fear isn’t supposed to be their currency. Trust is.

Nevertheless, police recruiting videos, as in those from California’s Newport Beach Police Department and New Mexico’s Hobbs Police Department, actively play up not the community angle but militarization as a way of attracting young men with the promise of Army-style adventure and high-tech toys. Policing, according to recruiting videos like these, isn’t about calmly solving problems; it’s about you and your boys breaking down doors in the middle of the night.

SWAT’s influence reaches well beyond that.  Take the increasing adoption of battle-dress uniforms (BDUs) for patrol officers. These militaristic, often black, jumpsuits, Bickel fears, make them less approachable and possibly also more aggressive in their interactions with the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

ferguson-missori-police-state-copblock

A small project at Johns Hopkins University seemed to bear this out. People were shown pictures of police officers in their traditional uniforms and in BDUs. Respondents, the survey indicated, would much rather have a police officer show up in traditional dress blues. Summarizing its findings, Bickel writes, “The more militaristic look of the BDUs, much like what is seen in news stories of our military in war zones, gives rise to the notion of our police being an occupying force in some inner city neighborhoods, instead of trusted community protectors.”

Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Toys?

“I wonder if I can get in trouble for doing this,” the young man says to his buddy in the passenger seat as they film the Saginaw County Sheriff Office’s new toy: a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. As they film the MRAP from behind, their amateur video has a Red Dawn-esque feel, as if an occupying military were now patrolling this Michigan county’s streets. “This is getting ready for f**king crazy times, dude,” one young man comments. “Why,” his friend replies, “has our city gotten that f**king bad?”

In fact, nothing happening in Saginaw County warranted the deployment of an armored vehicle capable of withstanding bullets and the sort of improvised explosive devices that insurgent forces have regularly planted along roads in America’s recent war zones.  Sheriff William Federspiel, however, fears the worst. “As sheriff of the county, I have to put ourselves in the best position to protect our citizens and protect our property,” he told a reporter. “I have to prepare for something disastrous.”

RELATED Content Tagged “MRAP” at CopBlock.org: http://www.copblock.org/?s=mrap

Lucky for Federspiel, his exercise in paranoid disaster preparedness didn’t cost his office a penny. That $425,000 MRAP came as a gift, courtesy of Uncle Sam, from one of our far-flung counterinsurgency wars. The nasty little secret of policing’s militarization is that taxpayers are subsidizing it through programs overseen by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department.

Take the 1033 program. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) may be an obscure agency within the Department of Defense, but through the 1033 program, which it oversees, it’s one of the core enablers of American policing’s excessive militarization. Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to transfer its surplus property free of charge to federal, state, and local police departments to wage the war on drugs. In 1997, Congress expanded the purpose of the program to include counterterrorism in section 1033 of the defense authorization bill. In one single page of a 450-page law, Congress helped sow the seeds of today’s warrior cops.

The amount of military hardware transferred through the program has grown astronomically over the years. In 1990, the Pentagon gave $1 million worth of equipment to U.S. law enforcement. That number had jumped to nearly $450 million in 2013. Overall, the program has shipped off more than $4.3 billion worth of materiel to state and local cops, according to the DLA.

In its recent report, the ACLU found a disturbing range of military gear being transferred to civilian police departments nationwide. Police in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for instance, received 34 automatic and semi-automatic rifles, two robots that can be armed, military helmets, and a Mamba tactical vehicle. Police in Gwinnet County, Georgia, received 57 semi-automatic rifles, mostly M-16s and M-14s. The Utah Highway Patrol, according to a Salt Lake City Tribune investigation, got an MRAP from the 1033 program, and Utah police received 1,230 rifles and four grenade launchers. After South Carolina’s Columbia Police Department received its very own MRAP worth $658,000, its SWAT Commander Captain E.M. Marsh noted that 500 similar vehicles had been distributed to law enforcement organizations across the country.

aurora-police-department-1033-program-copblock

Astoundingly, one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local, and tribal police agencies is brand new. This raises further disconcerting questions: Is the Pentagon simply wasteful when it purchases military weapons and equipment with taxpayer dollars? Or could this be another downstream, subsidized market for defense contractors? Whatever the answer, the Pentagon is actively distributing weaponry and equipment made for U.S. counterinsurgency campaigns abroad to police who patrol American streets and this is considered sound policy in Washington. The message seems striking enough: what might be necessary for Kabul might also be necessary for DeKalb County.

In other words, the twenty-first-century war on terror has melded thoroughly with the twentieth-century war on drugs, and the result couldn’t be anymore disturbing: police forces that increasingly look and act like occupying armies.

How the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice Are Up-Armoring the Police

When police departments look to muscle up their arms and tactics, the Pentagon isn’t the only game in town. Civilian agencies are in on it, too.

During a 2011 investigation, reporters Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz discovered that, since 9/11, police departments watching over some of the safest places in America have used $34 billion in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to militarize in the name of counterterrorism.

In Fargo, North Dakota, for example, the city and its surrounding county went on an $8 million spending spree with federal money, according to Becker and Schulz. Although the area averaged less than two murders a year since 2005, every squad car is now armed with an assault rifle. Police also have access to Kevlar helmets that can stop heavy firepower as well as an armored truck worth approximately $250,000. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1,500 beat cops have been trained to use AR-15 assault rifles with homeland security grant funding.

As with the 1033 program, neither DHS nor state and local governments account for how the equipment, including body armor and drones, is used. While the rationale behind stocking up on these military-grade supplies is invariably the possibility of a terrorist attack, school shooting, or some other horrific event, the gear is normally used to conduct paramilitary drug raids, as Balko notes.

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The Rise of the Warrior Cop, by Radley Balko

Still, the most startling source of police militarization is the Department of Justice, the very agency officially dedicated to spreading the community policing model through its Community Oriented Policing Services office.

In 1988, Congress authorized the Byrne grant programs in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which gave state and local police federal funds to enlist in the government’s drug war. That grant program, according to Balko, led to the creation of regional and multi-jurisdictional narcotics task forces, which gorged themselves on federal money and, with little federal, state, or local oversight, spent it beefing up their weapons and tactics. In 2011, 585 of these task forces operated off of Byrne grant funding.

The grants, Balko reports, also incentivized the type of policing that has made the war on drugs such a destructive force in American society. The Justice Department doled out Byrne grants based on how many arrests officers made, how much property they seized, and how many warrants they served. The very things these narcotics task forces did very well. “As a result,” Balko writes, “we have roving squads of drug cops, loaded with SWAT gear, who get money if they conduct more raids, make more arrests, and seize more property, and they are virtually immune to accountability if they get out of line.”

Regardless of whether this militarization has occurred due to federal incentives or executive decision-making in police departments or both, police across the nation are up-armoring with little or no public debate. In fact, when the ACLU requested SWAT records from 255 law enforcement agencies as part of its investigation, 114 denied them. The justifications for such denials varied, but included arguments that the documents contained “trade secrets” or that the cost of complying with the request would be prohibitive. Communities have a right to know how the police do their jobs, but more often than not, police departments think otherwise.

Being the Police Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Report by report, evidence is mounting that America’s militarized police are a threat to public safety. But in a country where the cops increasingly look upon themselves as soldiers doing battle day in, day out, there’s no need for public accountability or even an apology when things go grievously wrong.

If community policing rests on mutual trust between the police and the people, militarized policing operates on the assumption of “officer safety” at all costs and contempt for anyone who sees things differently. The result is an “us versus them” mentality.

Just ask the parents of Bou Bou Phonesavanh. Around 3:00 a.m. on May 28th, the Habersham County Special Response Team conducted a no-knock raid at a relative’s home near Cornelia, Georgia, where the family was staying. The officers were looking for the homeowner’s son, whom they suspected of selling $50 worth of drugs to a confidential informant.  As it happened, he no longer lived there.

Despite evidence that children were present — a minivan in the driveway, children’s toys littering the yard, and a Pack ‘n Play next to the door — a SWAT officer tossed a “flashbang” grenade into the home. It landed in 19-month-old Bou Bou’s crib and exploded, critically wounding the toddler. When his distraught mother tried to reach him, officers screamed at her to sit down and shut up, telling her that her child was fine and had just lost a tooth. In fact, his nose was hanging off his face, his body had been severely burned, and he had a hole in his chest. Rushed to the hospital, Bou Bou had to be put into a medically induced coma.

The police claimed that it was all a mistake and that there had been no evidence children were present. “There was no malicious act performed,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.” The Phonesavanhs have yet to receive an apology from the sheriff’s office. “Nothing. Nothing for our son. No card. No balloon. Not a phone call. Not anything,” Bou Bou’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told CNN.

Similarly, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor continues to insist that Jay Westcott’s death in the militarized raid on his house was his own fault.  “Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers. You can take the entire marijuana issue out of the picture,” Castor said. “If there’s an indication that there is armed trafficking going on — someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm — then the tactical response team will do the initial entry.”

In her defense of the SWAT raid, Castor simply dismissed any responsibility for Westcott’s death. “They did everything they could to serve this warrant in a safe manner,” she wrote the Tampa Bay Times – “everything,” that is, but find an alternative to storming the home of a man they knew feared for his life.

Almost half of all American households report having a gun, as the ACLU notes in its report. That means the police always have a ready-made excuse for using SWAT teams to execute warrants when less confrontational and less violent alternatives exist.

In other words, if police believe you’re selling drugs, beware. Suspicion is all they need to turn your world upside down. And if they’re wrong, don’t worry; the intent couldn’t have been better.

Voices in the Wilderness

The militarization of the police shouldn’t be surprising. As Hubert Williams, a former police director of Newark, New Jersey, and Patrick V. Murphy, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, put it nearly 25 years ago, police are “barometers of the society in which they operate.” In post-9/11 America, that means police forces imbued with the “hooah” mentality of soldiers and acting as if they are fighting an insurgency in their own backyard.

While the pace of police militarization has quickened, there has at least been some pushback from current and former police officials who see the trend for what it is: the destruction of community policing. In Spokane, Washington, Councilman Mike Fagan, a former police detective, is pushing back against police officers wearing BDUs, calling the get-up “intimidating” to citizens. In Utah, the legislature passed a bill requiring probable cause before police could execute a no-knock raid. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has been a vocal critic of militarization, telling the local paper, “We’re not the military. Nor should we look like an invading force coming in.” Just recently, Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department agreed with the ACLU and the Los Angeles Times editorial board that “the lines between municipal law enforcement and the U.S. military cannot be blurred.”

Retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper has also become an outspoken critic of militarizing police forces, noting “most of what police are called upon to do, day in and day out, requires patience, diplomacy, and interpersonal skills.” In other words, community policing. Stamper is the chief who green-lighted a militarized response to World Trade Organization protests in his city in 1999 (“The Battle in Seattle”). It’s a decision he would like to take back. “My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose,” he wrote in the Nation. “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict.”

These former policemen and law enforcement officials understand that police officers shouldn’t be breaking down any citizen’s door at 3 a.m. armed with AR-15s and flashbang grenades in search of a small amount of drugs, while an MRAP idles in the driveway. The anti-militarists, however, are in the minority right now. And until that changes, violent paramilitary police raids will continue to break down the doors of nearly 1,000 American households a week.

War, once started, can rarely be contained.

To Terrify and Occupy: How the Excessive Militarization of the Police Is Turning Cops Into Counterinsurgents is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Adam Kokesh Talks About The Police State

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Cyle O’Donnell, shared the content below – an interview had with Adam Kokesh, via CopBlock.org/Submit.

Interview Date: May 17, 2014

Earlier this year I interviewed Adam Kokesh for my podcast show. In it he talks about many of the issues of the police state facing America and the world. He dispels some of the common misunderstandings about our rights and offers advice on what to do about them.

I thought this was applicable to your cause and thought that people who read your content might benefit from the perspective of a man who has actually taken police to task and suffered some real challenges in his personal march for freedom.

Connect with host Cyle O’Donnell:

Adam Kokesh Talks About The Police State is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Pennsylvania State Police Acquire Riot Shield Vehicle with Tracks For…

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

The content below was shared anonymously via CopBlock.org/Submit. It shows how the fear-culture that permeates within the police culture has manifested at the Pennsylvania State Police.

Date Witnessed: 09/17/2014
Outfit: Pennsylvania State Police
Phone: (717) 783-5599

Saw this the other day on the way home from the gym and thought to myself what the hell is this.

So I pulled over and took some pictures for Cop Block. Can’t believe my taxes paid for this…

pennsylvania-state-police-tread-riot-shield-2-copblock pennsylvania-state-police-tread-riot-shield-1-copblock

Pennsylvania State Police Acquire Riot Shield Vehicle with Tracks For… is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights

Panhandle Cop Block Start-Up Campaign

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The content below was shared via CopBlock.org/Submit by Dirk, who’s involved with Panhandle Cop Block, which was earlier this month added to the page CopBlock.org/Groups.

Hello from the team over at Panhandle Cop Block!

We’ve created a GoFundMe account to help launch Panhandle Cop Block. We want to raise money so we can print and distribute Cop Block material to the community and the local law enforcement agencies to let them know what we are about and what to expect.

Help Panhandle Cop Block kick off its campaign of police accountability by donating today:

http://www.gofundme.com/CopBlock850

Your donations will go towards the printing and distribution of Cop Block materials and citizen’s right pamphlets to raise awareness in the community and educate the public how to stand up for their rights in Police State America. Every donation no matter the size helps and is greatly appreciated by our team here at Panhandle Cop Block. Be share to share this with friends, family, and other concerned citizens.

panhandlecopblock@gmail.com
http://twitter.com/nwflcopblock
http://facebook.com/copblock850

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Panhandle Cop Block Start-Up Campaign is a post from Cop Block - Badges Don't Grant Extra Rights