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Monday, 18 August 2014

Warrior cops on steroids: How post-9/11 hysteria created a policing monster


Sometime after 9/11 strange stories began to emerge about small town police agencies all over the nation receiving grants from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security to buy all kinds of high-tech equipment to fight “terrorism.” 

As Radley Balko thoroughly documented in his book Rise of the Warrior Cop the military industrial complex has created a new industry: the police industrial complex. Since 9/11 the United States has been spending vast sums of money through DHS to outfit the state and local authorities with surveillance and military gear ostensibly to fight the terrorist threat at home.  

What we have been seeing in Ferguson, Missouri, these past few days is largely a result of that program — and an entire industry has grown up around it. In less than a month a group of militarized police equipment vendors across the nation will be gathering for an annual confab called “Urban Shield” in Oakland, California.

It features dozens of sponsors, from the Department of Homeland Security and police agencies all over the country to such vendors as Armored Mobility Inc. The Department of Homeland Security disburses somewhere in the vicinity of $3 billion a year for this sort of thing. Add in the loot that’s legally appropriated by police agencies in the war on drugs and you have a massive incentive to turn the streets of Ferguson, Missouri ... into a scene that looks more like the siege of Fallujah.  

We’ve been spending billions of taxpayer dollars for decades to turn the streets of urban America into a war zone at the merest hint of dissent. And now it’s here.

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