Elizabeth Beavers / Friends Committee on National Legislation & Molly K. Hooper / The Hill – 2014-10-04 23:48:00
ACTION ALERT: Stop Militarizing Our Cities
Friends Committee on National Legislation
As the US begins yet another war overseas, the consequences are reverberating in towns across the country. But new legislation in the House and the Senate could stop the weapons of war from reaching small towns in the United States. From Ferguson, Missouri to Boise, Idaho to Calhoun County, Alabama, cities and counties are getting military grade equipment, free of charge, straight from the Pentagon through the 1033 program.
Shocking, almost comical, examples of abuse have been well-documented — from the officer who sold his weapons on eBay, to the one who lent his weapons to unauthorized friends and the police departments that lost the military weapons or tried to auction them off. Left unchecked, the 1033 program creates a dangerous path from hometown to war zone.
But the equipment is only a symptom of the larger problem. Too many police departments follow the pattern that emerged in Ferguson: a police force treating people in the communities they are employed to protect as enemies to be subjugated.
Cutting off free access to these weapons won’t, by itself, change the attitude of police officers towards the people they are supposed to protect. But it is an important step to return police to policing, not occupying, their communities. This legislation would take that step.
In an era of divisive politics, demilitarizing policing is one of the few issues with strong, bipartisan support. FCNL worked closely with members of Congress of both parties to build bridges and move this legislation forward.
Elizabeth Beavers â€¨is FCNL’s Legislative Associateâ€¨for Militarism and Civil Liberties
Police Militarization: Support the
Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act
The tragic events in Ferguson this summer have focused national attention on what police militarization looks like. This gives an opportunity to talk about the context in which it arose. Initiatives such as the 1033 program and terrorism grants to local communities reflect attitudes of fear, hostility and suspicion; they provide military grade equipment to local police departments.
The federal government can start to change the equation by ending Pentagon transfers of military grade weapons through the 1033 program. Cutting off access to these weapons won’t, by itself, change the attitude of police officers towards the people they are supposed to protect. But it is an important step to return police to policing, not occupying, their communities.
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Bipartisan Demilitarization Bill Released
Molly K. Hooper / The Hill
(September 15, 2014) — A liberal Democratic lawmaker has teamed up with a conservative GOP House member to move a bill aimed at demilitarizing local police forces in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Mo. riots.
Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson (D) tells The Hill that he has found support in a seemingly unlikely ally, Republican Rep. Raul Labrador (Idaho), for a measure that would restrict the types of surplus military equipment that the Pentagon can provide to police departments across the country.
Johnson is expected to introduce the measure on Tuesday, saying, “We are working now with Congressman Labrador’s office to tighten up and finalize the legislation.”
Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill condemned the violence that spread following the police killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Some pointed fingers at the program — referred to by insiders as “1033” — that Congress created in the early 1990s to provide law enforcement officials with surplus Defense Department equipment for creating an over-militarization of local and state police forces.
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