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Last week, local police fatally shot an unarmed African-American 18-year-old named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days that followed, there have been massive protests in Ferguson and heavily armed SWAT teams are roaming the streets in response. Our communities are not warzones.
And yet the police, armed to the teeth, treat us like the enemy, especially if we’re black, young, poor or homeless. Tanks are rolling through our towns. What will it take for police to start protecting communities of color, not waging war on them?
The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice are funneling billions of dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies every year to help them purchase military weaponry and equipment. What business do DOD, DHS, and DOJ have funding a war here at home?
With our country’s long history of aggressive policing in communities of color, it shouldn’t surprise us that these wartime tools and tactics are hitting poor and black neighborhoods hardest. To start undoing the damage, the feds need to stop funding this war.
Good policing is about trust, which has been severely eroded through the use of excessive force and police brutality. If police forces across America continue to militarize and treat communities of color as the enemy, they will increasingly be seen as an occupying army.
Stopping the funding and incentivizing of police militarization is a crucial first step to ending this war.
The preceding text is a press release from the ACLU. You can sign the petition on the ACLU’s site by clicking here.
Initial reports this morning seem to indicate that the tensions in Ferguson have eased following the State-level police seizing control of the area from Ferguson police. Protestors were reportedly joined by police in their march, who participated and protected the protesters instead of shooting tear gas at them. Additionally, following demands from the newly-formed Ferguson Anonymous op and the release of the wrong name by someone, the Ferguson police announced that they will be releasing the name of Brown’s shooter shortly.
Photo Credit: Jakob Sigurðsson under (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons