Not religious, but I say “Amen” to that.
Courtesy of Axios:
Amnesty International issued a statement on Sunday morning calling for an end to militarized policing in several U.S. cities and the use of “excessive force” against demonstrators protesting police brutality.
The human rights group said police across the country were “failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters.”
“Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable.”
— Amnesty International statement
The National Guard mobilized and curfews were imposed in several states after clashes between police and demonstrators protesting the May 25 death of George Floyd and other black people who’ve died in police custody.
Some officers responded to protests with restraint. Others used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.
The problem with outfitting yourself for war as a police officer is that you see citizens as enemy combatants instead of as your neighbors and fellow Americans.
If you are somewhere close to my age range you likely remember the incident that inspired the US police to adopt more lethal firepower and military-style protective gear.
In 1997 there was a shootout in West Hollywood that found two heavily armed bank robbers, named Larry Phillips Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu, facing off with a number of police officers armed with .38 revolvers and shotguns. (Link)
The two men had outfitted themselves with steel plated body armor and assault weapons with high capacity drum magazines.
In the end, 2,000 rounds of ammunition had been fired, twelve officers and eight civilians had been wounded, the two protagonists were dead, and US police departments were frightened into dramatically upgrading their tactical equipment.
It made sense then, but in the years that have followed, we have seen police officers arriving at potential crime scenes in tanks, decked out in body armor, and sporting the kind of weaponry we used to only see in RoboCop movies.
It is clear to most civilains at least that the line between peace officer and military assault team has been blurred, and now we are seeing startling overreactions that often result in unnecessary civilian casualties and increased animosity toward the police.
So yes, we need to revisit this issue and come up with a solution that protects the police but also reduces the number of responses that look more like an invasion than a simple visit from your friendly neighborhood patrol officer.