Michael Brown Shooting

Former LAPD Deputy Chief Explains the Militarization of American Policing

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LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.) writes:  It is sad that it took a police killing and the excessive deployment of a military presence by local law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri to focus national attention upon a problem that has been metastasizing within American law enforcement since the early 1970s.

The militarization of local law enforcement was seeded by the Nixon administration's declaration of the war on drugs in the early 1970s, and took root in the 1980s as result of President Reagan's escalation that poured millions into the drug war, shifting the focus of local law enforcement away from violent and property crimes to mostly small-time drug offenders.

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  1. The scene from “Die Hard” where the armored tank/not-a-tank is blown up by teh terrrrrrzsts came to mind yesterday.

    If you’re not military, and trained and familiar with military tactics, or not using such tactics if you are familiar with them – well, I could easily see that scenario playing out. And I wouldn’t shed a tear.

    Fuck tha militarized poe lease. And the non-militarized ones, too.

  2. I’m absolutely certain this guy spent his entire tenure as chief begging the mayor to cut his budget and let him de-prioritize simple drug possession arrests.

  3. This is a guy who was on the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition board, so you know his priorities are out of whack.

  4. Feudalization of police is the problem; re-establishment of a class of privileged paramilitary enforcers who live above the laws for the peasant classes, wielding arms forbidden to them, seeing them as an Other, and generally tasked with ensuring deference to authority moreso than any notion of justice or protection (beyond the basic sense of protecting the economic assets of the upper classes).

    Militarization is a necessary component of feudalization, but not the only one we have to fight. And police are not the only groups being re-feudalized; the media/education complex is being rebuilt into a new priesthood, political dynasties are becoming aristocratized.

    The entire notion of assigning sovereignty to whatever entity within a set of often arbitrary borders has the superior capacity for violence is a vestige of feudal society that continues to plague us; to successfully eradicate feudalism, sovereignty will have to come to rest with voluntary communities.

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