News Release

Militarization of Police

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at aol.com
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo recently co-wrote “No Rights that a White Man is Bound to Respect” for Black Agenda Report. She will be speaking at a rally outside the Justice Department Wednesday afternoon “to call on the Attorney General to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as an overhaul of U.S. law enforcement tactics in order to stop police brutality and the militarization of our police forces.” For more information on the rally, see here or contact: Alli McCracken, CODEPINK national coordinator, alli at codepink.org.

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. Her successful lawsuit lead to the passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act).

MICHAEL SHANK, michael at fcnl.org, @Michael_Shank
Shank just co-wrote “Stop Treating America Like a War Zone” with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who The Hill reports is “drafting legislation to limit a Pentagon program that provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.”

They write: “America is finally waking up to the militarization of its police forces. This is a good thing and heralds a tipping point in the changing face of policing in the United States. America must realize that what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri — with the overwhelming militarized response of local police forces to the protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager — is also bound to happen in other American cities. With outrage mounting over the crackdown in Ferguson, now is the time to act.

“Ferguson is not alone in having a militarized police force. There are countless stories of police departments getting (and later selling) assault weapons, drones and other military-grade equipment that is absolutely ill-suited for America’s main streets. The Columbia Police Department in South Carolina, for example, received a free Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, from the Pentagon, which otherwise would have cost Columbia nearly $700,000 (though the city is responsible for all repairs and upkeep going forward). Columbia’s interim police chief, Ruben Santiago, justified the acquisition by saying that the vehicle “will be a barrier between the public and a hostile person or situation such as a barricaded suspect with weapons who may be threatening someone’s life.”

Michael Shank is associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct faculty at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.