After militarizing police, Obama is putting law enforcement weapons under federal control.
With the help of President Obama and key media figures, the plight of inner city blacks against police brutality has become a major source of divide in society, as high profile cases including Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and, of course, Trayvon Martin, have driven a narrative that has communities demanding police accountability and on watch for the next incident that could stir the pot.
The country has witnessed riots in Baltimore and Ferguson and wide scale protest and civil disobedience movements growing in response to issues of police abuse and excessive force.
As these cases stir reaction, police forces have countered with an increasingly militarized presence, using riot gear, tanks, sound weapons, gas canisters, rubber bullets and other ‘weapons of war’ to control crowds and use intimidation to instill order.
Now, President Obama – who has been critical of police and eager to implement federal controls over local departments – is announcing a ‘ban’ on the sale or transfer of many of these military items to local police units:
President Obama has banned the sale of the most some kinds of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies in response to widespread criticism of a paramilitary-like response to riots in a St. Louis suburb last August.
In doing so, Obama put his stamp on the recommendations of a multi-agency federal working group that recommended banning sales of some military equipment and providing more training, supervision and oversight of others.
Banned will be tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms and large caliber weapons. Other kinds of equipment will be available to most police departments as long as they meet national policing standards, track their use and receive approval from the federal government before selling or transferring it.
The controversial MRAP armored vehicles will be ‘controlled’ by not prohibited.
The ban will coincide with Obama’s speech in Camden, New Jersey to announce initiatives to address the lack of transparency in police abuse cases, and ways to improve police-community relations – which have conveniently boiled over in a politically expedient way. President Obama’s decision is based upon the recommendations of a working group (PDF), an extension of his January 2015Executive Order 13688, establishing Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition.
This post was published at shtfplan on May 18th, 2015.