Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flee The SWAT

It probably won't do you any good... if they come to you, you'll probably end up dead anyway... but it's all you've got in these days of militarized police forces (see previous post for an example).

Matthew Harwood at TomDispatch examines the growing phenomenon of police as militarized invasion force... that's what SWAT has become in the course of the past three or four decades, growing from its origins in the 1960s as an attempted answer to the most extreme situations law enforcement can face into a quasi-military home invasion force, used mainly for serving drug warrants and equipped with the best equipment and vehicles the Pentagon can offer.

MRAP, Queensbury, NY
Bill Moyers features Tom Engelhardt featuring in turn Chase Madar on The Criminalization of Everyday Life, confronting more or less the same subject and featuring a photo of an MRAP vehicle guaranteed to terrorize (word used advisedly) any innocent citizen into staying home... where s/he is, as Harwood indicates, still not safe from the militarized invasions of the police who now own this formerly military vehicle.

A short passage from Harwood's article drives home the point:

In 1984, according to Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop, about 26% of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had SWAT teams. By 2005, that number had soared to 80% and it’s still rising, though SWAT statistics are notoriously hard to come by.

As the number of SWAT teams has grown nationwide, so have the raids. Every year now, there are approximately 50,000 SWAT raids in the United States, according to Professor Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. In other words, roughly 137 times a day a SWAT team assaults a home and plunges its inhabitants and the surrounding community into terror.

And you thought your primary danger of being shot full of holes came from the criminals. What goes around, comes straight at us; the US has terrorized the people of other nations with these weapons for decades, most recently in preemptive, invasive wars, and now the remaindered weapons from those same wars are driving into our neighborhoods and shooting up our own children. Welcome to America!

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