Posts tagged ‘tE8Xom38Rd8’

Police State

I agree with Mark [Stoval] that the United States is turning into a police state. It’s a police state that is not benevolent, but is mostly benign for most of those who dwell within it. Its power is backed by the truncheon, the machine-gun-armed EPA team, the local suburban police department with the Lenco BearCat off-road SWAT vehicle with .50BMG protection and dog-killing SWAT ninjas, but it does not deploy the truncheon and the rest the vast majority of the time. No, the vast majority of the time, the United States is a slightly frustrating uncle who provides nice birthday checks and stops you from buying a soda that’s too big to be healthy (even as he subsidizes tobacco farmers).

So, I agree with Mark that the United States is turning into a police state.

. . . but I disagree with him that it’s doing so “for a reason”.

Forever

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Police State

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

How Cops Became Soldiers: An Interview with Police Militarization Expert Radley Balko

Overarmed federal officials increasingly employ military tactics as a first resort in routine law enforcement. From food-safety cases to mundane financial matters, battle-ready public employees are turning America into the United States of SWAT.

FBI agents and U.S. marshals understandably are well fortified, given their frequent run-ins with ruthless bad guys. However — as my old friend and fellow columnist Quin Hillyer notes — armed officers, if not Special Weapons and Tactics crews, populate these federal agencies: the National Park Service; the Postal Inspection Service; the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Labor, and Veterans Affairs; the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Even Small Business Administration and Railroad Retirement Board staffers pack heat!
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