Obama took time out from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to remind the American people that he has instructed the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri.“I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground,” Obama said. “The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done.”
It is unlikely the government will conclude an increasing number of deaths at the hands of police is directly attributable to the militarization of law enforcement.
“Our analysis shows that the militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adopt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies, as well as in the equipment they use, such as battering rams, flashbang grenades, and APCs,” the ACLU explains in War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, released in June.
In regard to the situation in Missouri, USA Today noted today St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located, was a recipient of Pentagon equipment.
The federal 1033 program put in place by Congress in the early 1990s has distributed $4.3 billion in equipment ranging from office supplies to bomb disposal robots and advanced military technology.
According to Michelle McCaskill, media relations chief at the Defense Logistics Agency, the Ferguson Police Department participates in the 1033 program distributing nearly $450 million dollars in surplus military equipment to civilian law enforcement in the United States. The equipment includes items ranging from handguns and automatic rifles and to armored vehicles such as the MRAPs used in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A Missouri state official told the newspaper the Pentagon does not provide detailed lists of tactile military equipment sent to law enforcement, but said the equipment transferred to Ferguson included two vehicles, a trailer and a generator.
Members of the Ferguson police force went into the streets this week with .56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, body armor and a Bearcat, or a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. In addition to assault rifles, they carried side arms and four to six extra magazines.
“Their uniform would be mistaken for a soldier’s if it weren’t for their ‘Police’ patches. They wear green tops, and pants fashioned after the U.S. Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage pattern,” writes Paul Szoldra for Business Insider.