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Americans Protest Militarization of Local Police
an article by David Adams

The recent police suppression of Occupy Wall Street encampments in the United States has revealed that the American military has been arming and training local police forces as if they were preparing for war. However, this is not being accepted everywhere. An example comes from Keene, New Hampshire, as described in a recent article by Free Keene, an internet press service with the slogan "peaceful evolution."

click on photo to enlarge

According to the Free Keene article, " More Keeniacs are upset about the city council’s decision to do whatever the police suggest and approve a “Bearcat” armored personnel machine . . . . this move is a clear militarization of the police, and thankfully the people of Keene appear to oppose this intimidating monstrosity. The Keene Sentinel recently published more letters to the editor from concerned inhabitants."

Here is an excerpt from one of the letters: "The recent flurry of letters regarding the City Council vote to approve the “free” offer of a BearCat assault vehicle shows the unease many of us are feeling these days about both the growing militarization of our local communities and the budgetary choices being made by our leaders at the national, state and local levels during these tight fiscal times."

"Perhaps this issue has galvanized such a community response because it symbolizes the increasing emphasis on guns, so-called security and the “fear factor” that has occurred in this country in recent years, including the Monadnock region."

. . . "This issue also shows the power we each have to say “no,” even when we think our one voice does not make a difference."

"Councilor Terry Clark exhibited this courage in his recent vote, and his comment about not wanting to further encourage the “culture of war,” and his courage is to be commended."

"We have lived for such a long time in a “culture of war,” that it can be hard to envision what a society based upon a “culture of peace” would be like."

"But many people and communities in the United States and around the world are trying to do just this, right now."

"On Saturday, March 3, the Fourth annual New Hampshire Culture of Peace conference will be held at Keene State College. This year’s theme will focus on “advancing understanding, tolerance and solidarity.”


Question(s) related to this article:

Local police, militarization or culture of peace?

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Latest reader comment:

Here is an update on the militarization of local police in the United States:

Quoting from this article,

"In 2011 alone, more than 700,000 items were transferred to police departments for a total value of $500 million."

"“There’s been an unmistakable trend toward more and more militarization of American law enforcement,” Norm Stamper, former Chief of the Seattle Police Department and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing, told Danger Room. During his tenure in Seattle, he clamped down on the WTO protests in 1999, the infamous “Battle in Seattle.” It’s a response he now calls “disastrous.”

According to Stamper, having small local police departments go around with tanks and military gear has “a chilling effect on any effort to strengthen the relationship” between the community and the cops. And that’s not the only danger. “There’s no justification for them having that kind of equipment, for one obvious reason, and that is if they have it, they will find a way to use it. And if they use it they will misuse it altogether too many times,” said Stamper."

This report was posted on January 25, 2012.