A new video from Brave New Films highlights and questions the need for military gear for police officers.
“When you keep declaring wars at home, it’s no wonder that the police become warriors.”
The film asks how local police departments became “hostile military forces” in the first place.
- 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.