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article imageCongressmen call for demilitarization of police, post-Ferguson

By Ralph Lopez     Aug 14, 2014 in World
Bipartisan calls have been made in Congress demanding the "demilitarization" of US police forces as the spectacle in Ferguson, MO unfolds.
As a police force dressed like soldiers in a war zone, backed by heavy armored vehicles, clashed with civil rights demonstrators over the shooting of two black youths, critics say the police behavior is merely provocative.
Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia says he will introduce a “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act” in Congress next month, and Republican Senator Rand Paul made a similar call in an op-ed for Time Magazine.
Meanwhile Yahoo News ran a Twitter feed from a former soldier in Iraq, who posted a photograph of himself in that country, juxtaposed with a picture of a Ferguson policeman, and wrote:
“The gentleman on the left has more personal body armor and weaponry than I did while invading Iraq,”
The new look is a result of the US government's 1033 Surplus Equipment Program, which began in the Nineties but has kicked into high gear since the withdrawal of troops out of Iraq. Last June, after a "flashbang" grenade critically injured a 19-month old boy in Habersham County, GA, Kara Dansky of the ACLU told Time Magazine of the surplus and use of such equipment:
"It changes the culture of the police department. It gets them into a much more intense, paramilitary mindset rather than thinking about a community-oriented approach to policing."
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A watershed ACLU report released in June of this year, "The War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of Police in America," maintains that:
"the militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adopt a “warrior” mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies,"
The millions of dollars in equipment given to police departments since 9/11 includes thousands of mine resistant vehicles, machine guns, and grenade launchers.
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