Militarization of cops and the danger to civil liberty

 

        In the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal this week journalist Radley Balko chronicled the alarming militarization of American law enforcement.  The article, called Rise of the Warrior Cop, tells how local, state, and federal law enforcement are now armed, trained, and have the mentality of a soldier on the battlefield.  He also writes about the growing number of federal agencies that have SWAT forces; agencies like The Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education and the Consumer Products Safety Commission now have their own commando units.  Balko’s full article can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780...

To see how this process actually works on the ground and the danger of arming and training police like soldiers consider the article below from the Colorado Blog InsideWire-CO.

 

Federal Homeland Security Money Used to Roust Protesters from Denver Park

In August 2009 The Denver Post wrote a celebratory article about how well city leaders had used the $41.2 million the Federal Government gave the city to counter terrorist acts during the 2008 Democratic National Convention here. The title of the article was; Denver is still making most of security leftovers.

The InsideWire-CO (http://www.insidewire-co.blogspot.com/search/label/CO%20Justice) offered The Post a competing view - they refused to print it. The Wire argued that city law enforcement purposely purchased items intended to quash free speech and violently disperse the assembled public. The Wire accurately predicted that the purchases would be used against Denver citizens exercising their constitutionally protected right of assembly and free speech, not terrorists as the money was intended.


"It is how city officials chose to spend $20.6 million that tells a chilling tale. A total of $1.9 million went towards crowd control equipment and weapons, 28 percent of the $1.9 million went to purchase offensive type weapons and delivery equipment that included two orders of rubber blast and tear gas grenades costing over $140,000 and a grenade launcher costing $103,954."

(First Amendment danger in Denver, InsideWire-CO, Sept. 2009.)


When law enforcement deployed in the early morning darkness this weekend to force protesters out of Lincoln Park, they looked like storm troopers dressed in intimidating matching black helmets, body armor and pads, riot batons, tear gas dispensers and gas masks. This gear was part of the $724,613 the city spent for individual crowd control protective gear. When the free voice of liberty was choked out by mace it was part of $165,816 given to Denver law enforcement by Homeland Security to buy toxic chemicals to use against its citizens.

So the next time you see a citizen in Denver get abused and beat by police/soldier thank the Department of Homeland Security and the city police who knew the real threat here was free citizens expressing their views, not terrorists bent on destruction.

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