In light of the current militarization of local police forces patrolling the streets and cracking down on nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, a Senator has announced his plan to introduce an amendment to end a federal program permitting the disbursement of military equipment to U.S. police departments.
With these police forces heavily armed, lawmakers and activists are concerned the military hardware is a contributor to the increase in police violence and brutality to protesters.
“I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments,” says Sen. Brian Schatz.
According to a 2017 New York Times article, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reversing an Obama-era limitation fully restoring the military program, called 1033. The 1033 Program authorizes the Defense Department to send military equipment and weapons to local police departments who put in the request.
Schatz made his announcement as protests have emerged and escalated around the nation resulting in violent clashes between protesters and officers. Tear gas and rubber bullets have been used in an attempt to disperse crowds.
It is clear many police departments don’t train and supervise for restraint and de-escalation, and some officers are just plain racist and violent. Combine this with a President who appears enthusiastic about making it worse, and weaponry transferred from DOD, and here we are.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 31, 2020
“The cycle of police brutality sparking unrest, and that unrest being met by the militarized police are increasingly familiar in modern American society. Tough-on-crime policies and militarized police departments have paved the way for increased police contact and tragic violence. Reducing the capacity for police to engage in routine and militaristic violence is the only way to break recurring cycles of police killings and the militarized response that protests of them are often met with,” says Philip McHarris, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and African American studies at Yale University.