U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is trying to rally support on Capitol Hill to curtail the distribution of military surplus to local cops, amid images from Ferguson, Mo., of armored divisions of police quelling protests. Johnson plans to introduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in light of the response to the shooting death of a black Ferguson teenager in an altercation with police. Johnson told colleagues in a letter that the bill will do two things: It will limit the type of equipment that can be transferred; It will require that states certify that they can account for all equipment. Johnson notes that local departments are getting free Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) from the Pentagon with what he says is not enough accountability: “Before another small town’s police force gets a $700,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can’t maintain or manage, it behooves us to reign in the Pentagon’s 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America. I hope we can work together on this important issue.”Police militarization and for-profit prison privatization in the context of the racist War on (some) Drugs and racist open-carry private arsenal movements are of a piece, and a prevailing anti-democratizing threat. Representative Johnson's proposal, together with ongoing changes in drug sentencing guidelines and ongoing efforts for commonsense gun safety regulation are indispensable democratizing movements as well as resistance to reactionary white racism in America.
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Thursday, August 14, 2014
Johnson Introducing "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act"