Surprisingly, The Targets of Our Militarized Police Are Being Forgotten

I recently tweeted this:

Unbeknownst to me, Steve M. was thinking the same thing (boldface mine):

The “left” and “right” in this debate will be: do we get rid of the MRAPs and BearCats and keep the rest of our usual tactics? Or do we keep it all?

It would be lovely to think that Rand Paul, by joining liberals in condemning the racial inequities of our justice system, has helped move the discussion to the left. But as I told you on Thursday, even Paul stressed the military hardware rather than the racism in his Time op-ed. And now those of his conservative brethren who are willing to acknowledge any problems whatsoever in how we deal out criminal justice are going to limit themselves to talking about tanks. So, outside MSNBC, that’s all we’re going to talk about.

What is increasingly being left unsaid in the whole discussion about the transformation of our security forces into forces of occupation is that it has two main targets: minorities and left-of-center non-violent dissent–and, yes, opposition to police brutality, especially against minorities, has historically been a liberal, not conservative, cause, though there are exceptions. You haven’t seen any anti-abortion protestors teargassed, and the Bundy Ranch white riot (in which high-powered rifles were aimed at government officials) was met non-violently. At some point, if this is not gotten under control, someone will get it into his head to react with organized violence.

So I’m glad conservatives are joining in. Not only will that make it more likely that something might be done, but it will help the usual targets of police violence. But we need to remember that it’s not just the particular methods used, but that it is considered acceptable to treat some groups differently than others.

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4 Responses to Surprisingly, The Targets of Our Militarized Police Are Being Forgotten

  1. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    There are a few “bad actors” at the Ferguson protests. Molotov cocktails have bee thrown several times over the last week. I think the police need to invest massively in new technology: cameras. They should be covering these protests with several dozen video cameras, equipped for nighttime low-light conditions so they can identify and isolate those who are inflaming the situation.

  2. if you read *reason* this issue of disproportionate effect is brought up constantly (especially re: “drug war”). paul’s op-ed, which was aimed at conservatives more than libertarians, wasn’t typical in that way, as it had to work within mainstream political paradigm.

  3. It’s always been pretty obvious to me why in some minority neighborhoods, there’s a police vs. citizens situation where “the enemy” is the attitude. “The War on Drugs” explains it all. Of course I’m not discounting racism, not at all… since disproportionately less white people are arrested in this so-called war. (I see these things as complimentary rather than a chicken/egg question.)

    It’s the methods of the police, I could see, which would cause this when they’re basically using extortion methods in some cases, against innocent citizens to get them to inform on family members or neighbors who may or may not be involved in drugs or whatever, when these innocent citizens have no control over these other people, have to deal with these people, and they’re not actually doing anything wrong other than being privy to a bit of information.

    But what I don’t know is why the right-wing types who are into that “posse” stuff and whatnot, have a view of the police as “the enemy”.
    I’ve sort of assumed it stems from an attitude that they’d rather not have government at all, and prefer vigilante justice.
    I may be wrong in getting that impression, I don’t know.
    But if my impression was right… it makes sense they would be only concerned with the police having this military level equipment. Because their beef would be that “If I can’t have that the police shouldn’t have it.”
    Not saying I’m right, or really understand the whole thing, you understand.
    But I just worry that these conservatives who are emphasizing the equipment, that if they allowed rich white citizens to buy, keep, & use military tanks, etc… Then they wouldn’t necessarily be cutting up rough about the police having it to deal with “the rest of the people” (if you know what I mean).

    Note: I don’t know what the actual reality is, and I would welcome other opinions on this matter. Especially because overall, I do believe that a lot of conservatives actually have more in common with liberals than not, and I think it’s a shame there are not more instances of cooperation, when it seems clear there can be. (Tea Party & Sierra Club example – I think there could be opportunities for a lot more of that sort of thing.)

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