Michael Brown Shooting

Ferguson's Rep. Lacy Clay Voted Against Amendment to Limit Military Surplus Transfers to Local Cops, Just Two Months Ago

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Rep. Lacy Clay
House

In June, the House of Representatives voted on a series of amendments to H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act.  Among the amendments was one by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) which would've prohibited funds from being used to transfer certain kinds of military surplus to local police departments. The amendment failed by a wide margin, with only 62 votes for and 355 against.

Among those voting against this bill, which would slow down the militarization of America's police forces, was Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson, Missouri, where many Americans have gotten their first glimpse of America's militarized police in action.

House leadership on both sides also voted against it, including Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Supporters of the amendment include the usual civil libertarian suspects, such as Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who called attention to this vote on Twitter earlier today, John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Walter Jones (R-NC), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), John Lewis (D-Ga.), who nevertheless called for martial law in Ferguson, Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Mark Sanford (R-SC). Fourteen other Republicans and 43 other Democrats voted for the amendment.

There were a handful of members of Congress who didn't vote, including Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

See how your representative voted here.

Here is a transcript of Rep. Grayson's argument in favor of his amendment before the vote killed it:

Madam Chair, you may recall, yesterday, I gave an impassioned plea in favor of a different version of this amendment, which was ruled out of order. I am hoping for a better result tonight; but in any event, there is only so much passion in the world, so I will keep my remarks short.

I rise today to address a growing problem throughout our country, which is the militarization of local law enforcement agencies. The New York Times recently reported that police departments have received thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment and hundreds of silencers, armored cars, and aircraft directly from the Department of Defense. These are military weapons. I think this is appalling. That is why my amendment would prohibit the Department of Defense from gifting excess equipment, such as aircraft–including drones–armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, and bombs to local police departments. Those weapons have no place in our streets, regardless of who may be deploying them. As The New York Times article "War Gear Flows to Police Departments" explains:

Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of "barbering without a license."

One South Carolina sheriff's department now takes a new tank that it received from the Department of Defense with a mounted .50-caliber gun to schools and community events. The department's spokesman calls that tank a "conversation starter." I don't think this is the way I want my America to be. I think we should help our police act like public servants, not like warriors at war.

I think we should facilitate a view of America where the streets are safe and they don't resemble a war zone, no matter who is deploying that equipment. We don't want America to look like an occupied territory. I hope for the support of my colleagues, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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58 responses to “Ferguson's Rep. Lacy Clay Voted Against Amendment to Limit Military Surplus Transfers to Local Cops, Just Two Months Ago

  1. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

    Way to go, Raul.

  2. “the usual civil libertarian suspects” aka the people who hold no power in Congress.

    1. Whack-jobs right and left.Boogey-men of partisan derision and ridicule from both sides of the aisle.

    2. And it’s a bit of a stretch to label most of them as “libertarian”. Let’s say the liberty wing of the GOP.

      1. Isn’t that a code-word for racist?

      2. They used the term “civil libertarian” for that reason, and a good number of those listed aren’t in the GOP

    3. New Normal|8.14.14 @ 11:11PM|#
      “the usual civil libertarian suspects” aka the people who hold no power in Congress.”

      Hey, NN! Is this cause the unarmed kid threatened the cop by not kneeling?
      Because the uppity reporters asked questions?
      Is that the reason the libertarians hold no power?
      Friends, we have a brand new troll!

      New Normal|8.14.14 @ 10:42PM|#
      It’s pretty simple. Don’t riot and loot and burn down buildings. Maybe the 18 year old shouldn’t have attacked the police officer. Maybe the rioters should have dispersed when asked. Maybe those ‘journalists’ should have actually complied with police orders rather than shove a camera in a police officer’s face and act like a petulant child.
      https://reason.com/blog/2014/08…..wa#comment

      1. No, old troll, new name.

    4. “the usual civil libertarian suspects” aka the people who hold no power in Congress.”

      Marriage equality is becoming the law of the land.

      Support for the drug war is petering out. Two states actually legalized recreational marijuana!

      People all over the country are opening their eyes to the militarization of their local police.

      Since Vietnam, has support for war in places like Iraq (or anywhere else for the matter) ever been lower?

      Obamacare is more unpopular than ever.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..ant-issue/

      With influence like that, who needs power in Congress?

      1. Entitlements Ken. None of it means a damn if we don’t seriously reform entitlements. Otherwise dollar collapse and God knows what lay ahead.

        1. I didn’t say we were done.

          …just that since we don’t have a lot of libertarians in Congress, that doesn’t mean we don’t have any influence.

          1. The same 20-30 libertarians (ones who voted for this amendment) are the same ones who have given the House a working majority on marijuana federalism in repeated votes. (Also, thank Boehner for at least being better than Harry Reid and allowing votes on amendments. Of course the Senate will never have a vote.)

            It’s not everything, but it’s something, yeah.

  3. I would seriously like to see where these departments plan to get the money to maintain these APCs that they are getting. I never had any experience directly with maintaining an MRAP but if they are anything like tanks the fucking things will break down just sitting in the motor pool if you are not doing constant maintenance on them. Which would not be so great if they were suddenly called into action because the cops need a swanky ride to a hostage situation or something. (Seriously, how did they get by before this?)

    1. They don’t break down that easily, but when they do…. yeah, I’d like to see two things – the parts budget and who they have that can actually fix the things…or the $ they have set aside for that.

      1. They’ll have all the labor they need from the internment camps, silly…

  4. Georgia was well represented in the “ayes” from Ron Paul-Republican Dr. Paul “Evolution is a lie from the fiery pits of Hell” Broun to my rep, Cynthia McKinney’s successor Hank “My fear is that the whole island (Guam) will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize” Johnson.

    1. How in the world can that district elect someone more venal and less intelligent than McKinney? Stop trolling us!

    2. And even John Barrow, who as the last of the conservative white Southern Democrats in the House is not necessarily who’d you think of when it comes to civil liberties.

    3. Hank Johnson says he’s introducing this bill, and actually he (or his staffer) replied to Radley on Twitter about it.

      He’s pretty good on this issue, at least. Even if that Guam thing was the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.

  5. John Fucking Conyers got one right. Good job, you otherwise-useless piece of shit.

    1. I believe he voted for Amash’s NSA defunding amendment too, and has been generally supportive of his fellow Michiganite on civil liberties issues.

      1. He’s a doddering fool with no power or sense who occasionally pulls the lever for good.

        Thin gruel. I’ve given him all the kudos I’ll ever give him. The sooner he’s out of congress, the better.

      2. Michiganite

        Michigander.

            1. Michogynist!

  6. “Among those voting against this bill, which would slow down the militarization of America’s police forces, was Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson, Missouri”

    There’s no way he could have known that this equipment would be used against protestors in his district, but there’s no way he wouldn’t have known that it could be used against protestors in his district.

    I will lose all sympathy for the people of Ferguson, Mo if they reelect him. Getting rid of politicians who vote for things that hurt their own constituents is what elections are for.

    1. And there is a Libertarian running for the seat in November. The Republican candidate is described as a “defense contractor employee” so I don’t know that he’d oppose police militarization, but I’m gonna reach out to all three for comment tomorrow. Clay to see if he regrets the vote and the other two to take a position on it.

      1. Stay on ’em, Ed. Appreciate your coverage on this a lot.

      2. Give ’em hell, Ed!

      3. Hey now, I’m a defense contractor employee and I’m definitely against police militarization. If he’s signing up with the LP, it’s worth hearing him out…there are plenty of libertarians in both the military and contractor ranks (because we get a unique view on the incompetence of politicians).

        Heck, part of the reason I left the military to become a contractor was so that I didn’t have to keep my politics to myself any longer.

        1. The defese employee’s the Republican. Still going to find out what his stance is and not just assume it. The Libertarian’s some kind of musician

      4. Good to see you guys following up on this as well…Reason’s had by far the best coverage and analysis on this story. Partly because you saw it coming long before most of the press.

      5. Ed, did you ever reach out to Clay’s opponent?

    2. I will lose all sympathy for the people of Ferguson, Mo if they reelect him. Getting rid of politicians who vote for things that hurt their own constituents is what elections are for.

      I admit that I just laughed when I read this.

    3. I’m pretty sure clay’a district is a lot bigger than ferguson, so it’s not like they can throw him out by themselves

      1. Clay’s

  7. Never trust a man whose first and last names are anagrams.

  8. Do not have much regard for Grayson! but will go with him on this ammendment and this policy. Bummer. Getting tough to define which party with which to side making Libertarian the choice !!!

    1. Grayson is a total statist douche, but I’ll give him props here.

      1. Grayson is the ultimate Floridian. And because of that, I love him in spite of his raging madness.

  9. Like the saying goes, the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. Grayson can rot in Hell.

  10. See how your representative voted here.

    Screw you Reichert

    Of course he is a former cop so it should be expected.

  11. “Madam Chair…”

    What the heck is this world coming to?

  12. I’m not for militarization of police, but is that the root cause of police violence?

    I doubt the officer who shot the kid in Missouri was in riot gear. A cop killed someone in NY with a choke hold. They guys who beat up on Kelly Thomas were regular officers.

    Flash bangs, rubber bullets, and tear gases are all standard police equipment.

    Once the police raids a wrong house with guns, the fact that they didn’t bring armored vehicles and dogs in vests are probably a moot point.

    1. Generally speaking, the same voices that oppose the Forces of Armored Policing (or FAP as I shall refer to them hereafter) are the same voices that oppose the drug war and (to some extent) the overcriminalization of American society in many other arenas.

    2. But it’s the layered effect. They can do all these things with a free hand because if people tried to push back, then they go with plan B.

    1. I change my mind. He deserved to die.

    2. Meh. When I was his age, I had undoubtedly been pictured a couple of times pantomiming gang signs without being in a gang. And I was a white kid from the burbs.

      But I’ve said this, based on what I’ve read from accounts of the inciting incident, I think there’s a possibility that young Michael Brown may have struggled with the officer initially, and that may have even included reaching for the piece.

      That could potentially excuse the initial shot fired, the one that resulted in Brown fleeing. But the accounts and the physical evidence thus far from what I’ve read do suggest that Brown ran after being shot and at some point raised his arms in surrender and he was shot. Multiple times.

      And that would be excessive force, by virtually any definition.

      1. “And that would be MURDER, by virtually any definition.”

        FIFY

    3. Meh. When I was his age, I had undoubtedly been pictured a couple of times pantomiming gang signs without being in a gang. And I was a white kid from the burbs.

      But I’ve said this, based on what I’ve read from accounts of the inciting incident, I think there’s a possibility that young Michael Brown may have struggled with the officer initially, and that may have even included reaching for the piece.

      That could potentially excuse the initial shot fired, the one that resulted in Brown fleeing. But the accounts and the physical evidence thus far from what I’ve read do suggest that Brown ran after being shot and at some point raised his arms in surrender and he was shot. Multiple times.

      And that would be excessive force, by virtually any definition.

  13. Among the amendments was one by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) which would’ve prohibited funds from being used to transfer certain kinds of military surplus to local police departments.

    See, this is what I have talked about before. Grayson is abrasive but he does shit like this. Ok, he also does some dumb shit, but he’s a Democrat. But, based on his overall legislative history I like the guy.

    1. Ok, he also does some dumb shit, but he’s a DemocratFloridian.

      FIFY

  14. How much do you guys want to bet that even though this POS representative voted against further militarizing the police, the good residents of Ferguson will still vote for him in the next election?

  15. See how your representative voted here.

    Naturally both of the “Live Free or Die” reps voted for people to die.

  16. Amazingly, my representative (Gibson) is one of the ayes.

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