Civil Liberties

Rand Paul: Scene in Ferguson Resembles "War More Than Traditional Police Action"


Gage Skidmore: wikimedia

Here's Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) responding to the ongoing strife in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting of Michael Brown.

In an op-ed for Time, he writes

Anyone who thinks that race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. And the root of the problem is big government.

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn't have expected to be shot.

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.

Paul goes on to say that "there is a systemic problem with today's law enforcement" and that local police have been militarized thanks to the use of "federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement."

Read the whole thing at Time here.

Last night, GOP Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) took to Twitter with a similar description of the scene in Ferguson as like a "war zone." 

As Reason's Ed Krayewski noted yesterday, Amash and Paul were two of the politicians called out in a Washington Post piece by Paul Waldman asking where libertarians were on the heavily armed police presence in Ferguson.