The Police Aren’t the Military

Ferguson

Stating that Americans historically love their military is an understatement. American culture has venerated the military for centuries, and though the bulk of the military is usually separated from the populace by its mostly overseas duties, it sometimes leaks into the public by way of the police force. The police are in many ways a local military, defending citizens from perceived threats and halting injustice. So, sometimes when the police perceive a threat and the National Guard can’t come in, we arm the police like a military. However, this militarization of the police has recently proven to be a very poor decision since so many activities, such as peaceful protests, are being “perceived” as threats requiring military grade equipment and action.
In his article “Militarizing Life”, Nolan Kline discusses how recent militarization of the police force have been birthed as a result of racial tensions in towns during times of protest. During the Zimmerman and Ferguson protests in 2013 and 2014 respectively, police forces produced an asymmetric response,bringing out tanks and fully automatic weapons in response to relatively peaceful protests. The beginning of police militarization is in part the result of retired military surplus being given to police stations in order to not waste supplies. Though most in our society would support recycling, the use of military grade weaponry by hardly police forces which rarely fight militarized forces is incredibly unorthodox. This is especially true when the response is in part fueled by racial profiling by the police force, creating an even more heavily armed response. Because of this, Kline calls on the military to end programs giving equipment to the police, in addition to a request for police departments to stop organizing asymmetrical responses to protests. He also asked readers to become more involved with protests, and not to ignore movements that they don’t feel personally involved in. These requests are quite simple, and will hopefully be followed during future events of racial tension. No race should be singled out by the police, especially when they’re simply exercising their right to protest.

http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2015/01/29/militarizing-life/
http://www.businessinsider.com/police-militarization-ferguson-2014-8

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