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Gibson writes: "The night after unarmed 17-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by police with his hands in the air, a march down a main road led by a Missouri state senator was indiscriminately attacked with tear gas."

The Ferguson Police Department riot squad moving towards a protester. (photo: Getty Images)
The Ferguson Police Department riot squad moving towards a protester. (photo: Getty Images)


Ferguson Holds Up a Mirror to Our Militarized Police State

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

14 August 14

 

he night after unarmed 17-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by police with his hands in the air, a march down a main road led by a Missouri state senator was indiscriminately attacked with tear gas. The march included members of the community along with credentialed press. Others on Twitter documented the use of wooden pellets launched at the crowd, and the firing of rubber bullets, which are actually just normal bullets inside a thin rubber casing.

The FAA has just declared city of Ferguson a no-fly zone, prohibiting news choppers from documenting protests and police abuses. And in their first official statement since the shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson police said citizens should only protest during daylight hours. This implies that citizens demonstrating after sunset are fair game for repression. The framers of the Constitution never wanted there to be a sunset clause on the First Amendment.

What’s happening in Ferguson, a suburb of Saint Louis, Missouri, is just like what’s happened in Anaheim, California, after the killing of Manuel Diaz by local police. It’s the same thing that happened in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood after the NYPD killed 16-year-old Kimani Gray. And it’s the same police response that was seen in Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon, and many other cities around the country during the heavily-militarized crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

As The New York Times has documented, police departments across the country are getting unprecedented access to military-grade equipment meant for war zones. Grants from the Department of Homeland Security are available specifically so police departments in towns as small as Springfield, Massachusetts, can have grenade launchers, or for the Ferguson Police Department to get armored vehicles. The police response to the Ferguson protests has revealed the true intents of a militarized police force – suppression of dissent.

In June, the Guardian reported that the Pentagon has, for years, been preparing for mass civil breakdown. Last year. the Department of Homeland Security was buying bullets by the billions, driving up ammunition prices all over the country. It isn’t too far-fetched to suggest that municipal police departments are gearing up to prepare for such a civil collapse, whether brought on by economic or environmental circumstances, in order to transition seamlessly to martial law. If we allow a militarized police force to take hold in our communities and consistently violate the constitutional rights of citizens, we enable that transition ourselves.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 made it clear that military forces are not allowed to be deployed in civilian neighborhoods for law enforcement purposes. While the law originally was meant for branches of the U.S. armed forces, it should also apply to police departments using equipment meant only for U.S. armed forces in war zones. Because of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the so-called “War on Terror” included all of the United States as part of the “battlefield,” making it fair game for Posse Comitatus to be eliminated. It also allows for the indefinite detention in a military facility for anyone deemed to be a potential terrorist under loosely-defined parameters. This sets a dangerous precedent for the future of a democratic society.

Demilitarizing police forces must be an election-year issue in all municipalities for candidates running for mayor, city council, alderman, or selectman. Citizens must be willing to storm city council meetings and demand that town governments seize all military-grade equipment meant for war zones. State legislative candidates must be forced to answer questions about where they stand on police militarization. And there must be a national demand for what Anonymous called “Mike Brown’s Law,” that will “set strict national standards on police conduct and misbehavior in the USA.”

Citizens should also take it upon themselves to not demonize all police, but to get inside their organizational structures and turn police in the right direction. Anyone who has a relative who is a retired police officer should ask them about speaking to their police union at their next meeting. Police unions, which have largely been left alone in the midst of a national crackdown on workers’ rights, hold much sway over local police departments. Forging a citizens’ alliance with police unions can lessen the chances of another Mike Brown-type incident happening. And it could lead to police disobeying a potential order in the future to fire upon citizens in the event of, God forbid, a mass civil breakdown.

Police are meant to protect and serve the people, not the state. It’s up to all of us to hold them to that.



Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

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-57 # arquebus 2014-08-14 09:25
Gun owners have been having difficulty buying ammo for a couple of years. Many blame the government for buying up all the ammo. However, the National Rifle Assn, no less, investigated and determined it is hoarding not government actions that have caused the shortage of ammo. We say the same thing 14 years ago at the turn of the century when idiots were fearful of the millennium.

The author left something out. On the night of the shooting, people were shooting at the police in addition to throwing rocks and bottles. It is no wonder in the aftermath of that that the cops "armored" up.
 
 
+48 # A P 2014-08-14 11:08
I see your "out of control crowd" and raise you a Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram "shock" experiments.

The cops are exactly on-script, getting steadily more vicious as their "authority", followed without question and handed down from above, is challenged by those they see as inferior.

This all started with a cop attempting to exert excessive "command and control" over a teen walking on a deserted street.

When will the Ferguson authorities realize what Zimbardo did and pull the plug on this "experiment" before more people (cops and protesters) die or are otherwise physically and emotionally harmed?
 
 
+21 # Barbara K 2014-08-14 14:51
I'm so glad to see that now the Governor has stepped in and relieved all the police of their duties in Ferguson. Maybe now things can calm down now. Glad to see the Dem Governor has the guts to do it.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/14/1321549/-Missouri-Governor-announces-St-Louis-County-Police-to-be-relieved-of-their-duties-in-Ferguson

..
 
 
+17 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-08-14 13:29
LET'S BE OBJECTIVE. If we lose our objectivity, we lose the ability to think logically.

I watched the first night of looting in Ferguson "live" on three stations of local television. The looters were criminals and nearly cost the lives of three individuals (two workers and one innocent refugee from the chaos) who were holed up in the back room of the QT when the looters burned it down. Subsequent reports of arrests indicate that many looters were career-criminal opportunists from outside the area — NOT protestors. I was rooting for the cops who were pretty slow at showing up and surprisingly casual and somewhat disorganized.

Unfortunately, the looters disgraced the community's eminently VALID protest movement, but the yet-to-be-named cop who murdered Mike Brown has disgraced all of law enforcement. He failed the professionalism test when he first opened his fascist mouth, and he purposefully created and escalated a needless confrontation that led to a tragedy of his own making.
 
 
+22 # A P 2014-08-14 14:39
To be "objective", the entire scenario must be accounted for.

It is obvious police abuses of power were all too common in Ferguson, otherwise the original "walking on the street" incident would not have spun out of control like it did. Any cop that thinks he has the right to shoot ANY unarmed person for such a minor confrontation is in the wrong line of work. But even Blackwater (or whatever they are calling themselves this week) has standards I guess...

Bottom line, the guy with the badge and the gun is supposed to exercise the greatest level of self-restraint, not the least. This cop failed, and instigated a chain of events that was easily predictable.

The Detroit and Watts Riots did not suddenly appear, they were the product of many years of abuses.
 
 
+1 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-08-14 15:27
Read my entire comment and the comment below. I think you'll find that we're in agreement.
 
 
-24 # arquebus 2014-08-14 16:37
I would quibble with the statement about "opening his fascist mouth". You have no idea what his politics are...he might be a liberal Democrat for all you know.

As to the stop...complete ly justified. The two young men were jaywalking. I would imagine that jaywalking is illegal in Ferguson as in every other city in which I have lived. Jaywalkers endanger themselves and certainly impede any cars trying to use the road.

Has it occurred to anyone that none of this would have happened had the two young men obeyed a lawful order and got out of the street and onto the sidewalk.
 
 
+14 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-08-14 20:03
What a crock of doodle doo!!!! Listen to yourself! Listen to how far you attempt to stretch credulity in order to rationalize your joke of a position. Your grasping at straws makes me LAUGH!

It was an empty neighborhood street with no traffic — that's how the two friends were able to walk in it — DUH!. Kids PLAY in the street there! The cop purposefully used the occasion to intimidate and subjugate and control — the LAST thing he was concerned about was for Brown's safety.

I walk in my street all the time when there is no traffic, and if a cop stopped and shouted to me to "Get the f@#k off the street and up on the sidewalk!" I'd be mad as hell, and I'd make it a point to talk to the Chief of Police about it to let him know he had a patrolman running around alienating taxpaying citizens — but you don't get to do that in Ferguson.

By the way, "Get the f@#k off the street and up on the sidewalk!" has an implicit omission at the end — the N-word — that any black man in Ferguson would understand.
 
 
+14 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2014-08-14 13:31
This happens all over. You can not reason with police on the street and you are a fool to try — be smart and just do what they say and sue them later in court. On the street or even in your home, their word is the final word; do not ask them to explain their actions; they are not there to debate with you or relate to your concerns about what you perceive to be injustice; they are there to rule you and subdue you. They perceive any reasonable, intelligent inquiry as a threat to their authority.

The press will finally catch on when the police start beating up the press, which they've begun doing in Ferguson. They roughed up Washington Post and Huffington Post reporters in a Ferguson McDonald's yesterday, and there's video of it.

I sometimes have to chuckle when middle class whites have run-ins with police on the street. Soccer moms think they, themselves, are above the law, and they think that all police are reasonable, fair and honorable. The expressions on their faces when reality handcuffs them and pushes them into a squad car are priceless.

I'm white, by the way.
 
 
+4 # MidwesTom 2014-08-14 09:30
Here are some more pictures from Ferguson:

http://webmail-classic.windstream.net/do/mail/message/view?msgId=INBOXDELIM153084
 
 
+40 # Kwelinyingi 2014-08-14 09:33
Militarized Police and Racist State would be a more apt title for this piece. Remember Apartheid South Africa among others?
 
 
+36 # fredboy 2014-08-14 09:43
Since the 9/11 'attack' local and state cops have gone loco.

Lots of swagger, hyper-defensive--paranoid?

How about a few ounces of community focus, community service, and comfortable performance like the good cops we once knew.

So many today seem scared shitless, or desparate for a fight. Bullies?

And lots of swagger, like so many Americans.

Sissy nation? You can do better than that!
 
 
+41 # RMDC 2014-08-14 10:02
fredboy -- I agree. 9-11 was a turning point for the US and for the world which the US has control over. 9-11 was the point at which the |US became a fully fascist state. Homeland Security and the Patriot act were the leading indicators. Homeland Security has transformed all local police departments by training them not to police crime but to combat civil resistance and civil disorder.

Cops have always been racist, but their new mission of occupying neighborhoods as a military force only makes racist confrontations more likely.

I don't think the US will ever recover from the changes brought on in the wake of 9-11. Of course all of these changes were in the works well before 9-11, some going back to the days of Reagan and the Ollie North White House basement conspirators. It has been the same gang of neo-cons in the CIA since the days of Nixon that have been running all of this. 9-11 gave them the pretext, the new Pearl Harbor, in order to bring about total fascism in the US. Thanks Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Your dreams have come true.
 
 
+12 # Cassandra2012 2014-08-14 14:43
It is not JUST racist (though I agree there is strong evidence of rampant racism).
Has everyone forgotten the horrendous case in Chicago of an off-duty cop in a tavern who attacked a female bartender because he was drunk and she refused to serve him? He beat her within an inch of her life, and the case went to court because there was clear taped evidence.
But the corruption, uber-violence and arrogance of cops , including actual RAPES of women driving at night, are examples of their apparent corruption especially , but not exclusively, in Chicago. There are also apparent 'brotherly' exemptions for 'wives' of cops, as one acquaintance of mine blithely told a group of us one day that when her cop-husband found out a cop had given her a ticket 'even though she had told him she was a cop's wife'!, called the honest cop in the middle of the night and threated him!! Many more examples, but the point is that these militarized cops think they are ENTITLED to do these things, and look down on minorities, women, and 'others' not of their own group. possibly because they feel threatened and/or because they suffer (sic?) from inferiority complexes or as suggested elsewhere are GI-Joe wannabes.
 
 
+17 # lorenbliss 2014-08-14 14:51
9/11 was the U.S. version of the Reichstag Fire.

The pre-9/11 U.S. is no more. We the People are no longer citizens. We are instead subjects of a global empire, what is effectively the Fourth Reich. (Making it thus was the avowed intent of the Nazi war criminals the USian capitalists and politicians welcomed and embraced after 1945.)

In the Fourth Reich as in the Third Reich, unpopular minorities are the first targets of oppression – a core principle in Nazism and all other forms of fascism. (This is how the politicians retain the support of the Moronic Majority.)

In the Third Reich, ruled by Hitler and the Nazis in accordance with the principles Hitler laid out in "Mein Kampf," the initial targets were Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, Leftists and trade unionists.

But for the Red Army, the Third Reich and its allies would have conquered the world.

In the Fourth Reich, ruled by the One Percent via corrupt politicians in accordance with the principles Ayn Rand laid out in her fictionalizatio ns of “Mein Kampf,” the initial targets are African-America ns, Hispanics, First Nations people, Leftists and trade unionists.

The Fourth Reich, whether economically or militarily, has already conquered the world and is now making of the entire planet an electronic concentration camp.

Who then can save us from this looming fascist darkness? Who has the requisite courage, solidarity and discipline?
 
 
+8 # Nominae 2014-08-14 22:01
Quoting RMDC:
.... 9-11 was a turning point for the US and for the world which the US has control over.....


A matter of semantics I know, but I would prefer to call 9/11 the "tipping point".

To my mind, the "turning point" - the time that the carefully planned, long range, and, as of now, *highly* successful plan for the Fascistic take over of the U.S. was put into place and launched in 1980.
 
 
+29 # cordleycoit 2014-08-14 09:55
Remember the tanks on Woodword Ave. Detroit? The Iron fist is never far from our bodies. Cosby talked about the phone company truck with a machine-gun on the roof. The police do nothing without being ordered by their masters, the bankers. The press doesn't get it that they are supposed to lie to us the people. The government is there to rule us and we are their subjects, here to be ruled or killed.
 
 
+15 # Michaeljohn 2014-08-14 09:58
With something over 90 guns per hundred residents in the US according to a recent small arms survey, and numerous articles in the press about runs on ammo at gun shops and online stores since Obama was elected, arquebus is probably right on about paranoid hoarders being responsible for any ammo shortages.

If widespread civil unrest ever becomes a reality, there will be more danger to civilians from rogue 'militias' than the local cops as has been seen in other countries recently.

That being said, the current militarization of local police forces is way beyond the original SWAT team level and the cops don't have the training or discipline that the real military have.
 
 
+27 # RMDC 2014-08-14 12:30
But who owns all these guns and who hoards all the ammo. I don't own a gun. I'm a white liberal. I doubt if many African Americans own guns. Same for Hispanic Americans. Really the vast majority of guns are owned by right wing xenophobic and racists males. These are the people who also fill up the ranks of the police and military. The rest of us are pretty much disarmed. In short, we are screwed.
 
 
-13 # arquebus 2014-08-14 16:42
I know lots of white liberals who own guns as well as lots of minorities. Your problem is you don't realize that murder and mayhem are the least common use of guns.
 
 
+4 # Nominae 2014-08-14 21:50
Quoting arquebus:
I know lots of white liberals who own guns as well as lots of minorities. Your problem is you don't realize that murder and mayhem are the least common use of guns.


Yeah ..... look up "non sequitur".

The fact that murder and mayhem are *A*
common use of guns is the fact that needs to be addressed.

No one here is objecting to people killing Bambi for dinner.
 
 
+2 # arquebus 2014-08-15 10:05
The point is that relatively few guns are misused. We have a societal problem not a gun problem. We have a society that has been so "individualized --dog eat dog" that we almost don't have a society any more. Once upon a time, the nuts would have been taken care of rather than left to stew in the margins until they blow up.
 
 
+38 # Buddha 2014-08-14 10:21
This also shows how disparately that militant response to dissent by our people exists in America. When it is unarmed African-America ns, out comes the military-gear armed police, tear gas, and Armored Personnel Carriers. When it is a bunch of white anti-government militia groups with AR-15's actually aiming their sniper rifles at law enforcement at Ted Bundy's ranch, where is that same kind of response? Imagine the response in Ferguson if the mostly African-America n protesters were armed like those militia groups at Ted Bundy's ranch?
 
 
+32 # pbbrodie 2014-08-14 10:42
"Imagine the response in Ferguson if the mostly African-America n protesters were armed like those militia groups at Ted Bundy's ranch?"
That's easy to answer, there would be rivers of blood in the streets and not cop blood.
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2014-08-14 12:31
pbbrodie -- I'd like to see the response. I really can't imagine it. I have no idea what the police would do. Maybe they would just stay home????
 
 
+2 # Cassandra2012 2014-08-14 14:44
Yes!
 
 
+25 # Michaeljohn 2014-08-14 10:32
Unfortunately, the newly militarized cops seem to be GI Joe wannabees and judging from their actions, are mainly driven by fear and overactive testosterone production.
 
 
+17 # WestWinds 2014-08-14 13:12
Quoting Michaeljohn:
Unfortunately, the newly militarized cops seem to be GI Joe wannabees and judging from their actions, are mainly driven by fear and overactive testosterone production.


--- I think they are hand picked and selected for their attitudes by the policing forces themselves and only the most corrupt get promoted to the higher positions.

Here where I live the police chief has a Sargent who is also their training officer and a more Right-wing sock puppet you'd be hard pressed to find.

We also have a revolving door of rookie police which is blamed on low salaries, but my personal experience with many of these officers is that they join the force and find out how corrupt this police department is being run and so the good ones transfer out hoping to find a better situation while others just get out altogether to find some other occupation.

But what do we expect when the federal government is such a role model of corruption. Just a look at the House alone should speak volumes.
 
 
+21 # reiverpacific 2014-08-14 11:03
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28782308
The WORLD is watching and drawing it's own conclusions.
A cop in Portland OR who was suspended for "Over-reaction" a.k.a. Violence, especially in the fast-becoming gentrified predominantly north/northeast area of the city, has just been reinstated with $5,000 back "Vacation" pay. This guy was discovered to have all kinds of Nazi paraphernalia in his apartment. -OK, he's "free" to do so but it demonstrates his attitude to his work, especially towards black, brown, poor and disadvantaged folks (Like the Daleks in Dr Who and of course Der Fuhrer--- 'EXTERMINATE!!").
Democracy anybody?
 
 
+12 # reiverpacific 2014-08-14 11:08
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28782308
The WORLD is watching and drawing it's own conclusions.
A cop in Portland OR who was suspended for "Over-reaction" a.k.a. Violence, especially in the fast-becoming gentrified predominantly north/northeast area of the city, has just been reinstated with $5,000 back "Vacation" pay. This guy was discovered to have all kinds of Nazi paraphernalia in his apartment. -OK, he's "free" to do so but it demonstrates his attitude to his work, especially towards black, brown, poor and disadvantaged folks (Like the Daleks in Dr Who and of course Der Fuhrer--- 'EXTERMINATE!!").
They must now be training cops at Fort Benning, Georgia in the former "School of the Americas", -now speciously renamed The "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC" death-squad factory, or someplace very like it.
Democracy anybody?
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2014-08-14 14:17
Quoting reiverpacific:
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28782308
The WORLD is watching and drawing it's own conclusions.
A cop in Portland OR who was suspended for "Over-reaction" a.k.a. Violence, especially in the fast-becoming gentrified predominantly north/northeast area of the city, has just been reinstated with $5,000 back "Vacation" pay. This guy was discovered to have all kinds of Nazi paraphernalia in his apartment. -OK, he's "free" to do so but it demonstrates his attitude to his work, especially towards black, brown, poor and disadvantaged folks (Like the Daleks in Dr Who and of course Der Fuhrer--- 'EXTERMINATE!!").
They must now be training cops at Fort Benning, Georgia in the former "School of the Americas", -now speciously renamed The "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC" death-squad factory, or someplace very like it.
Democracy anybody?

Sorry about the double-post: my essential tremor went rogue on me again (that really IS it's medical name).
 
 
+4 # futhark 2014-08-14 11:40
Alex Jones has been telling us about this for years on his Infowars website. It is interesting to me to see a convergence of views between libertarians like Jones and progressives like most users of this website.
 
 
+15 # Docmc 2014-08-14 12:19
The repression won't be localized long. Many police departments are just as militarized and staffed with just bas many bully psychopaths and have just as little accountability. The new fascist police state: the FSA: Fascist States of America There seems to be a desire to outdo Hitler's Gestapo.
 
 
+4 # Anarchist 23 2014-08-14 17:00
As a student of history, especially the Third Reich, I can see the monster uncloaking...my preference is the Untied Stasi Staats of Amerikkkanistan ...USSA!
 
 
+19 # Docmc 2014-08-14 12:23
Remember Rev. Niemollers poem. As LonG as it is the blacks people don't care. It won't be blacks forever. there's the poor, the jews, the liberals, the democrats. then it will be you!
 
 
+10 # Cassandra2012 2014-08-14 14:46
The blacks, the Hispanics, the WOMEN and then Jews, Liberals, and you.
 
 
+22 # WestWinds 2014-08-14 13:04
It's too bad that it takes something like this for people to begin to see what is directly in front of their faces all along.

I see this as the gradual tightening of the corporate Fascist forces which aim to own us and control us with abuse and terrorism.

The police are a law unto themselves and they need to have better guidelines to reel in their rogue behavior.
 
 
+6 # walt 2014-08-15 08:05
The next time you are tempted to proclaim "Support Our Troops," you may want to think about that. It seems clear here that our very own military is happily arming local police with surplus war weapons we over-purchased for the illegal invasion of Iraq. This gives even greater meaning to Eisenhower's "Military -Industrial Complex" that we see as already out of control.

The ACLU and all civic groups must demand an end to the practice of arming police with military equipment that we, the people, bought with our tax dollars for use against enemies of the USA, not against Americans. And we should also publicize the names of those who authorized this practice, especially in an election year.
 

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