• Pentagon’s Excess Property Program (1033 Program) has supplied police departments across the country with more than $4.3 billion in gear since 1997. This includes $449 million in 2013.
• St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located, received two military vehicles, a trailer, a generator, 12 5.56-millimeter rifles and six .45 caliber pistols from the Pentagon.
• Military style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.
• In SWAT style raids, people of color are most affected - 37% were Black, 12% Latino, and 19% White. Race was not known for the remainder.
Police militarization grew out of our failed drug war. Does a town of 2,200 need a massive military tank? Why does the police department in Dundee Michigan need a MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle)? They don’t. Military grade gear does not improve the safety and security in small towns. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must end the flow of military grade gear from the Pentagon to our local communities. It’s time for the militarizing of police to end.
Last month, protests in Ferguson, MO turned violent after police showed up in full SWAT gear after fellow officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. But Ferguson isn’t the only community receiving military grade weaponry from the Pentagon.
We need to roll back programs 1033, 1122, and the National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri will chair a subcommittee hearing tomorrow on Capitol Hill looking into police militarization.
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