The police are more militarized than ever.
Tell President Obama : Don't lift the ban on military equipment transfers to local police !
The White House is about to undo one of its biggest reforms to stop police militarization since Ferguson--and we need to come together to stop it.
Last year, after the horror of armed tanks rolling down residential streets and officers using grenade launchers to tear gas protesters, President Obama signed an executive order limiting the 1033 Program--which transferred combat gear from the military to local police departments.1 The order banned the federal government from giving away armored tanks, weaponized aircraft, military-grade weapons, grenade launchers and other military equipment to local police departments. And now, police unions and departments are trying to force President Obama to unravel this victory and lift the ban. Unfortunately, they’re making headway: last week, White House administration officials announced they would be reconsidering the 1033 Program ban.2
Lifting the 1033 Program ban would be devastating for Black communities. The proliferation of military equipment and tactics in police departments creates the mentality that the people police are meant to serve are enemy combatants--and it’s claimed the lives of too many. But if we show President Obama that more people want to maintain the ban on police militarization than want to lift it, we can make sure he keeps military-grade weaponry out of our communities. Will you sign the petition?
Tell President Obama: Don’t lift the 1033 Program ban. Police departments shouldn’t have military-grade weapons.
Since 2006, the 1033 program has given local police departments around $1.9 billion worth of equipment. That includes 79,288 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers, 11,959 bayonets, 479 bomb robots, and $124 million worth of night-vision equipment.3 In just one year the program distributed 600 MRAP armored vehicles to police departments across the country.4
When police bring armed tanks and grenade launchers to a peaceful protest, it’s a direct threat to Black safety.Since the Ferguson Uprising, the number of protests in the movement for Black lives has been rising, and the militarization of police has only led to more violent arrests and escalation of peaceful demonstrations. Just last month in Baton Rouge after the murder of Alton Sterling, local police were dressed for war in full-body armor, drove around in MRAP tanks--which are designed to deflect roadside bombs--and used LRAD devices that emit deafening high pitch sounds to disperse the crowds.5 These devices are most commonly used in Iraqi detention camps.
Police don't need military equipment--they aren't at war with civilians. Sign the petition to keep the 1033 Program ban.
Police are using the military gear for more than responding to Black protest--they’re also using it to raid our homes. And we’re dying because of it. The 1033 program was created in the 1990s with the original intent to respond to the “War on Drugs.”6 This led to a proliferation of SWAT teams using military equipment to terrorize Black communities with dangerous, sometimes fatal, and completely unnecessary military-style raids. Instead of being used to respond to active or mass shooter situations, SWAT teams are using flashbang grenades and bomb robots just to serve search warrants. In fact, only 7 percent of all SWAT team raids are in response to an active shooter, hostage or barricade scenario. 8 in 10 were for search warrants.7 The normalization of SWAT team military-style raids has undoubtedly helped drive mass incarceration in the Black community.
In addition, SWAT team raids too often kill innocent Black people who are simply sleeping or relaxing in their homes. Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old little girl in Detroit, was sleeping when she was shot during a SWAT team raid.8 Aiyana Stanley-Jones died because of police militarization. Tarika Wilson, a 26-year-old mother in Ohio, was holding her infant son when police broke down her door and opened fire.9 Tarika Wilson died because of police militarization.
Many police departments are still able to purchase military equipment through Department of Homeland Security grants.10And at a time when many are coming together to demand less federal dollars going to police, the end of 1033 Program military equipment donations is something we can’t roll back. President Obama is clearly already in favor of this ban--we have to be louder than his opponents and show the president just how many of us support keeping it in place. We can’t afford not to.
Until justice is real,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Clarise, Enchanta and the rest of the Color Of Change team.
1. "Obama Reins In Military-Style Equipment For Local Police Departments," Buzzfeed News, 05-18-2015
2. "White House Reconsiders Ban On Military-Style Equipment For Local Police Departments," Buzzfeed News, 07-25-2016
3. "MRAPs And Bayonets: What We Know About the Pentagon's 1033 Program," NPR, 09-02-2014
5. "Baton Rouge cops dressed for war to confront protesters," Vice News, 07-11-2016
6. "MRAPs And Bayonets: What We Know About the Pentagon's 1033 Program," NPR, 09-02-2014
7. "War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing," ACLU, 06-2014
10. "'Do Not Resist' And The Crisis Of Police Militarization," The New Yorker, 05-13-2016