Author Topic: Lawmaker drafting bill to stem flow of tanks and M16s to local police  (Read 209 times)

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Online mystery-ak

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Lawmaker drafting bill to stem flow of tanks and M16s to local police

By Mario Trujillo - 08/14/14 01:58 PM EDT

A Democratic congressman from Georgia is drafting legislation to limit a Pentagon program that provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.

Rep. Hank Johnson is pushing the legislation in response to the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where an armed police presence has taken to the streets after mass protests over a police shooting.

“As the tragedy in Missouri unfolds, one thing is clear. Our local police are becoming militarized,” Johnson wrote in a Dear Colleague letter sent Thursday to other members of Congress.

"Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s," Johnson wrote.

Johnson said he will introduce the bill in September, when Congress returns from a five-week recess.

Police have been out in force in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager who was unarmed when he was shot by a police officer during a street confrontation.

The images coming out of Ferguson — which President Obama on Thursday called “deeply disturbing” — have spurred comparisons with a war zone, with heavily armed police officers pointing weapons at protesters. Some of the protesters have reportedly thrown Molotov cocktails at police.

"Is this a war zone or a US city?" Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) tweeted Wednesday evening, as reports emerged of police using smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Johnson pinned blame for the situation on the Pentagon's '1033' program, which offers surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement, including M16 rifles and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP).

He noted in the last several months those vehicles have been given to cities in Texas, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Illinois and Alabama.

"This trend is not only sweeping America's small cities, it's hitting American college campuses as well. Ohio State University recently acquired an MRAP," he said. "Apparently, college kids are getting too rowdy."

Johnson said his bill would limit the type of equipment that could be transferred and would make sure states track all equipment received.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Thursday pushed back on criticism of the police response.

"The whole picture is being painted a little bit sideways from what's happening," Jackson said.

"It's not military, it's tactical operations. It's SWAT teams. That's who's out there — police. We're doing this in blue."

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles similarly defended police conduct, telling MSNBC he could not "second guess these officers."

Lawmakers aren’t convinced and are increasingly sounding the alarm about the new firepower being wielded by police departments.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a contender for the GOP nomination in 2016, on Thursday penned an op-ed for Time magazine blaming Washington for “using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies.”

"There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response," Paul wrote. "Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem."

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) on Thursday said the police response seen in Ferguson “has become the problem instead of the solution.”

McCaskill said that while she respected police working to provide safety, "my constituents are allowed to have peaceful protests, and the police need to respect that right and protect that right."

Obama said Thursday that "there is never an excuse for violence against police" but added that there was "no excuse for police to use excessive force."

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Offline sinkspur

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Re: Lawmaker drafting bill to stem flow of tanks and M16s to local police
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2014, 06:42:42 PM »
It's about time.  Municipal police departments, given military equipment, will use it, as we see in Ferguson.  Those guys look like, in the words of Kevin Williamson at National Review, mall ninjas in their high boots, mounted guns and camouflage.

Goofy but deadly in their mindset.


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Offline Fishrrman

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Re: Lawmaker drafting bill to stem flow of tanks and M16s to local police
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2014, 09:18:02 PM »
Have to agree with you on this, sink...

There once was a broad line of distinction drawn between "the police" and "the military".

If the police was under-equipped or under-manned, then it was time to call out armed citizens and deputize them. Only in extreme cases was the military used (for example, calling in the National Guard after a natural disaster, or, in earlier days, riots), and they remained "the National Guard", distinct from the local or state police.

Such distinctions today seem to have disappeared. Now, we have SWAT teams that are for all practical purposes, "heavily-armed forces". Not to mention Homeland Security soldiers (or are they "police", or what-the-heck are they?)

Posse Comitatus used to be adhered to, but seems to have fallen by the wayside as well.

We are inching ever-closer to an all-out police state.

Who will rise up and stop this?
Certainly not the federal government, including the Congress.
I sense only the state governments, or the people-at-large, can put the kibosh on it...
« Last Edit: August 14, 2014, 09:19:41 PM by Fishrrman »

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