The war on terror has returned to the United States and is wreaking havoc in the city of Ferguson with other cities prepared to follow. The weapons once used to destroy places like Iraq and Afghanistan have found their way into the hands of law enforcement resulting in the militarization of America’s police department. It is a war zone when “unarmed” lives can be taken by those designed to protect them leaving some to feel as if justice was properly handed down.
In recent years many stories have surfaced as a result of the abuse of “stop and frisk” tactics and the way the system has been racially discriminatory in its application. Across this great country it seems communities of color have continuously been targeted by police practices. At the rate of black on black murders in the African-American communities they surely do not need help with the elimination process.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report it is more than a perception; militarized policing has in fact targeted communities of color.
…of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 11 percent were Latino, 20 percent were white and 39 percent were Black.
The growing militarization of domestic police forces has been a concern for years, but has recently become a national debate as shocking footage continues to emerge from Ferguson. With a police force that many believe have a history of abusive practices this city remains the site heated racial tensions between protesters angered by the shooting death of Michael Brown.
With all of the images that have surfaced surrounding this newly identified war zone called Ferguson, the most tragic were not of the riots or protestors but of the militarized police department. Images have surfaced of officers complete with helmets, tear gas, automatic rifles, Kelvar vests, camouflage, dogs and even armored vehicles while they storm this town’s streets. Meanwhile, protesters and innocent citizens are walking with signs that read, “Hands up don’t shoot!” It is wrong, dangerous and far too reminiscent of the 1960s.
It seems law enforcement has blurred the lines between true soldiers and police officers. With the enhancement of military-style equipment police have adopted a mind-set previously reserved for war. Images showed police using armored vehicles to show force for crowd control as they sprayed tear gas and barked orders. The fact that police are eager to use these new weapons and vehicles is definitely not a surprise, when people get new toys they do not hesitate to play with them.
There already exists a long-standing culture of aggression with it comes to law enforcement and predominantly black communities. With the addition of armored vehicles and assault weapons Ferguson has become a breeding ground for war. Officers are beginning to look at residents the way the military looks at the enemy. Rep. Hank Johnson seemed to agree when he said,
This is the military equipment that you use to fight wars with. We’re not fight wars here on the stress of America. We are fighting crime.
The sad reality is today it is Missouri but other states are set to follow. The war on terror has returned to the United States and is wreaking havoc in the city of Ferguson. The weapons once used to focus on places like Iraq and Afghanistan are now being used to militarize America’s police department. A place is considered a war zone when law enforcement feels justified killing “unarmed” civilians and other citizens stand by and applaud.
Opinion By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)