Monday, September 08, 2014

urban shield police militarization expo...,


commondreams |  Urban Shield comes amid the ongoing militarization of U.S. police, showcased in Ferguson and enabled by a patchwork of programs facilitating collaboration between police and law enforcement.

The Pentagon's 1033 program, which was established in the 1990s, authorizes the Department of Defense to donate what it considers surplus military equipment to police and sheriff departments in the United States. Meanwhile, the 1122 program allows police to purchase military weapons deemed non-surplus at a reduced price for purposes of "counter-drug, homeland security and emergency response activities." Since September 11, 2001, the federal government spent billions of dollars on grants to assist in the arming of local police departments with military-grade weaponry recycled from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the 2011 findings of the Center for Investigative Reporting.  As a result, combat equipment ranging from Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to grenade launchers to automatic weapons are being used to patrol U.S. streets, enter homes, and crack down on protests — from Boston to Ferguson.

The influx of weapons has led to the heavy arming of paramilitary SWAT teams, which were used increasingly throughout the 1970s and exploded during the onset of the War on Drugs. They are now used for policing activities ranging from drug raids to delivery of warrants. A recent ACLU report found that, between 2011 and 2012, SWAT raids conducted by local, state, and federal police disproportionately target people of color.

A coalition press statement slammed the vast impacts of these programs, which include: "SWAT raids that disproportionately impact the Black community happening 100 times per day in the U.S. often under the banner of the War on Drugs; ICE raids that force immigrants into dehumanizing detention and deportation proceedings; and surveillance and infiltration of mosques and Leftist political organizations."

Tara Tabassi of War Resisters League told Common Dreams via email, "We aim to dismantle all police militarization programs: Urban Shield, UASI, 1033, 1122 and Fusion Centers. Achieving that though, we would still be faced with the mentality of police militarization, domestically and globally. Occupation is not just about weapons, whether in Ferguson or Palestine. It exists because the present social order requires it, and that's why we are seeing a movement growing — from Boston to the Bay — that gets to the roots of the problem by demanding community self-determination."