The Military Is Being Tapped To Handle Domestic Protests, Something It's Not Really Equipped To Handle

from the answer-to-protests-over-force-is...-more-force? dept

With protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin erupting all over the nation, states are beginning to ask the National Guard to step in. The epicenter of these demonstrations is Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the National Guard has already been deployed to handle protests and enforce the curfew.

But it’s not just Minnesota. The military apparently has plans to intervene in several other states if necessary, as Ken Klippenstein reports for The Nation.

The US military is monitoring protests in at least seven states, according to Defense Department documents obtained exclusively by The Nation.

In addition to Minnesota, where a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, the military is tracking uprisings in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to a Defense Department situation report. Notably, only Minnesota has requested National Guard support. The documents were originally stored on an unclassified server but were subsequently elevated to a classified system.

In the only state where the Guard has been deployed, troops have been given the green light to enforce the law at bullet-point, if needed.

Another document about the protests in Minnesota, titled “MNNG Civil Disturbance Response Storybook,” is also marked FOUO and is dated May 29. It states that National Guard members have been authorized for “weapon status red,” meaning magazines loaded but safety on.

The good news is the documents seen by Klippenstein express concern about the Guard’s response to civilian unrest. They emphasize the protection of human life and personal property. But we’ll have an opportunity to see where these two directives meet if more property is targeted by looters or protesters. The National Guard is a branch of the military and crowd control isn’t a directive it’s had a lot of practice exercising. The few times that it has, it hasn’t exactly been applauded for its restraint.

The National Guard is being inserted into a volatile situation with a shortage of equipment and possibly conflicting directives. This likely isn’t going to work out well. As Steven Aftergood points out in Klippenstein’s article, thrusting a military entity into a situation where there’s no clear enemy tends to lead to bad decision making.

They are not trying to defeat an adversary, but to support their fellow citizens, to preserve order and to protect the defenseless. And unlike a response to natural disaster, they have to act in an environment of intense anger and provocation without losing their own bearings. It’s a near-impossible task even with the best training and equipment.

The National Guard has already demonstrated its inability to handle things well in limited action. A video shot by a Minneapolis resident shows troops firing paint canisters onto the porch of a house — directly at the residents — for ignoring unlawful orders to go back inside. The curfew only says people cannot be in public places past a certain point in the evening. It does not say they need to remain indoors.

There also appears to be a great deal more surveillance happening. A Predator drone on loan from the CBP has been spotted flying over the city and the state’s government — momentarily and mistakenly — claimed the NSA was engaging in domestic surveillance.

Walz also reportedly said during a press conference that the National Security Agency was providing “intelligence support” and intercepted communications regarding riots.

This statement has since been walked back by the governor’s office.

“No NSA involvement,” a Walz spokesperson told CyberScoop. The Democratic governor was mistaken in suggesting Saturday during a press conference that the U.S. military had provided the state with signals intelligence collected by the NSA, the spokesperson said.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no domestic surveillance being performed by intelligence agencies. The Intelligence Community provides support to military intelligence and the National Guard is a military component. Governor Walz mentioned “signals interception,” which can mean a whole lot of things and it appears the governor is actively seeking access to DoD intelligence collections. The NSA’s involvement — if any — won’t be direct. But domestic-facing agencies — including the FBI — have access to NSA collections and can perform backdoor searches to access “inadvertent” collections of US persons’ communications.

With President Trump citing the Insurrection Act in tweets and public statements, there’s a possibility other branches of the military could become involved in crowd control and curfew enforcement. This Act was invoked during the 1992 LA riots but the law has been expanded twice since then to give the president even more discretionary power, meaning Trump can likely make good on his threat to send the troops in to shut down demonstrations if he feels cities and states aren’t doing enough on their own.

This unrest has erupted from the use of excessive force by an armed government employee. It seems unlikely that sending more armed government employees with a directive to deploy force will defuse the current situation — especially when defusing situations isn’t something that comes naturally to them.

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Comments on “The Military Is Being Tapped To Handle Domestic Protests, Something It's Not Really Equipped To Handle”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

And people arrested in NYC were taken aside & had nice FBI agents asking them if they were antifa or what their views of antifa were.

Nothing like rolling out a federal agency to add credibility to the insane idea that a terrorist group managed to lure all of these people into the streets to protest b/c Soros will pay them afterwards.

Also note this managed to happen while we are among the most surveiled people & somehow no one found a single document to support this idea (well outside of the made up bullshit on Q boards). It’s almost like they aren’t really protecting us or looking for actual plots in the nation, just trying to keep the toddler in chief from picking on them more.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Interestingly the FBI report cleared Antifa of any involvement, but did warn that far right groups are out to cause violence.

Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, faced with the protest in London, had some interesting things to say:

She added that officers decided that had they tried to enforce a mass dispersal, "we would probably have ended up with very serious disorder".

She and the other members of the National Police Chiefs Council have instead issued a very strong and unusual statement in the hope of calming tensions.

They said they are appalled by Mr Floyd’s death in Minnesota and know people want to make their voices heard.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here in europe the reactions are often disbelief over George Floyd’s murder. That sort of shit happens in the middle east, in some hellhole where fundamentalist extremists are in charge. But executions-style murder, right in broad daylight, in front of a crowd? In the western world?

And european police have been, so far, very understanding that demonstrators have taken to the streets against racism.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hellhole where fundamentalist extremists are in charge

Our fundamentalist extremists running the federal US government are Protestant Evangelicals rather than Salafi jihadists, but they exhibit all the scary features we expect from the worst of our doomsday cults, including pushing the world towards the alleged conditions that will accompany the Second Advent.

And yes, this is to say our religious fundamentalists may be more terrifying than their religious fundamentalists.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Is this our new normal?"

Well, no. It’s been the "normal" since the end of the civil war…if you were black, that is. After 1968 it just got more subtle – the cops would drag the brown guy behind a building or into some alley before working him over, to preserve the sensibilities of the upstanding bleeding heart liberals among the white folk. Who of course bleated happily about not seeing their neighbors being oppressed anymore and resumed grazing and snoozing, not really noticing when every now and then a black sheep would mysteriously go missing and be found with all legs broken and a cracked skull after, apparently, having stumbled over a small rock. Hey, would the wolves tending the herd, who observed it all, lie?

"Let’s just call it a shit hole country"

The more americans come to realize that truth – that this is what they currently live in – the greater the chance they’ll be able to make their nation something other than what it is right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What far right group? We see what is going on and it’s these far left groups doing it all.

Everyone has the right to freely Protest. You have ZERO right to go looting and worse and every one of those people should be SHOT. it doesn’t matter skin color. it’s a CRIME!!! Murdering, or attempted murder of police officers is a CRIME!!!!

Know what I saw the RIGHT doing? At least in a few towns. Outside, with GUNS protecting their own town and of every color. White, Brown and Black out there with GUNS, Peacefully protecting their town. It was a fantastic sight to see.

Republicans, the Right are busy WORKING!!! Staying Home because of the so-called COVID-19 which has now magically disappeared. By the way, there was like 9 more Black Killings in Chicago by other Blacks!!! Where is the outrage of that?

Why black man was murdered by Tyrant Pigs. The main one is at least arrested and charged with Murder. This is great. What is not great is all this other CRAP that has nothing to do with it. You ask most of these people and they tell you as much. I’ve also seen pictures of these people one minute holding up a BLM sign and he next arms full of stuff!!! Clearly LOOTING!!!!!

Supposedly these people care so much about this murdered black man that they then go out and destroy many black men small businesses!!!!! You know what, it’s the RIGHT out there helping them by giving these people money on gofundme to rebuild their business.

Funny how these LOOTERS are targeting Best Buy and Footlocker and please like that. High Tech hardware and SHOES!!!! Not Home Depot. I bet none of them own a pair of work boots. I hope all these people end up in jail. It’ll take some time to find them all, b ut many are on camera. Faces seen!!! I was watching 1 small business owner who happened to have 4K cameras around his business. Had one of them coin game machines inside. That was vandalized by 3 people. Distroyed the machine as they ripped it from the wall and tipped it to dump out all the quarters. Didn’t touch like the Soda Machine. All 3 faces on camera. He already knows who they are. I guess the father is going to work off the damage that his kid did. I think that’s to nice. With a $2K Machine and about $500 in quarters, that move it up to a federal crime.

There are cameras all over. You may have your face covered up doing your looting, but not before or later where you are caught on some other camera. I hope most get caught in tossed into jail for a few years and pay restitution. I don’t care if it takes them the rest of their life to pay it off. They have ZERO right.

Those peacefully protesting, great. Why I’m not sure. No one seems to care about all the other blacks killed by blacks. Far more that just this 1 person. Or all the police assaulted and worse, not all of them are white by a long shot. While I think most police officers are BAD. If you cover up and protect the bad ones, you’re just as guilty. Still doesn’t give you the right to assault them, or murder them or anyone else. It’s just disgusting what I’m seeing out there.

By the way. I’m staying home where I do have GUNS and will SHOOT any looter trying to break into my place. I do also have cameras around my house.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: The Army is a broadsword, not a scalpel.

Ironically the military may be better at the proper use of reasonable and proportional force than the police, many of them commenting after the Ferguson riot, that the way the police acted was exactly what they themselves were trained never to do when confronting nervous locals in foreign countries.

According to a few of the US military police officers doing crowd control routinely act in ways which would have an actual enlisted man barred from holding a weapon. It’s as if the US police doesn’t understand the concept of escalation of force.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s as if the US police doesn’t understand the concept of escalation of force.

Blame that on modern police training, which teaches the concepts of “everyone is a threat”, “your life is the one that matters most”, and “your job every day is to get out of the warzone and back home safely” to the point where police grow so paranoid for their own safety that any kind of proper escalation of force is nixed in favor of a cop saying “I feared for my life” while standing over the body of an unarmed man.

When the military has better training in dealing with “hostiles” than the cops, and the cops are the ones basically committing war crimes by using tear gas and pepper spray and “rubber” bullets on civilians, that says a lot about the state of policing in the United States — and all of it should sound awful to a rational person.

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Semi-anonymous coward says:

The irony of Trump using the military to coerce people to stop protesting is not just impossible to ignore, it just fuels the protests further by proving their point. He is itching to use the Army to murder Americans because they would not obey his "do what I tell you because I tell you to." BS. It really boils down to it as he wont ever acknowledge the protester’s goal of reforming the police and getting justice for those murdered by the police in the past.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yep. The terrorists behind 9/11 accomplished everything they set out to do. The US has become a nation completely in the hands of the ultra-authoritarians where a country scared shitless of its own shadow and the bogeyman under its bed has encouraged its own law enforcement agencies to become the main enemy of the citizenry.

It would be interesting to see some statistics over how many americans have been killed by police in the last ten years as compared to by terrorists…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"That depends on if you count police as terrorists or not."

Hmm…no. Terrorism is defined as politically motivated violence.
So far the cops in question aren’t doing much of that, their closest agenda appearing to be "I don’t like your colors, so I’ll bust a cap in yo ass!" and lately "You fscking tell ANYONE about this you’re fscking DEAD. Hear me?".

Less Bin Laden, more MS-13, really.

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Bloof (profile) says:

Hmm, wonder where all those folks threatening lawmakers with guns to ‘protect freedom’ are now that Trump is actively trying to crush protests using the power of the state… Oh right, either sat at him tweeting Blue/White/All lives matter, or attending protests with weapons to try and instigate violence so they can hurt minorities, liberals and the poor.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"now that Trump is actively trying to crush protests using the power of the state…"

This is literally what the ammosexuals claim they need all their guns for. Turns out is was actually only for when they couldn’t go shopping or get a haircut. Who’da thunk it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, get off it. Nobody was threatening lawmakers with guns. If they were they’d be in prison. If lawmakers felt threatened by a lawful demonstration then they can either change the laws to make it illegal to bring guns into those government buildings or fix whatever drew those people in to begin with.

But if you really expect half a dozen people with rifles to start killing lawmakers you’re even worse than the police. And that you keep repeating the "where are the guns now?" line it’s clear you think those with guns should be out killing the people you don’t like. That makes you a pretty horrible person.

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JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"Nobody was threatening lawmakers with guns."

What did they bring the guns for then? Genuine question. Self-defense? (Against who?) Target practice? Of course not. As we keep being told, the whole point of the 2A is to be able to protect against government tyranny, which is the exact words used by protesters. The threat was clearly implied and not missed by anyone.

Your second paragraph goes off on some weird imagined direction irrelevant to what I said.

Bodger (profile) says:

Always more to come

Well, so far they’ve simply been using a red-cross marked helicopters to harass the protesters, in itself probably a violation of the laws of war (and Trump did say it was a war, didn’t he?). There are always helicopter gunships and armed drones and maybe one of the AC-130 Spectre slaughter machines for the really big crowds. Given Trump’s mentality, possibly caused by his bone spurs, there is probably no limit to what might happen and with the Senate and Courts as wholly-owned subsidiaries of the GOP there won’t be any pushback there. [posted semi-sarcastically but the more I think about it…]

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Upstream (profile) says:

The mission of the military is to kill and destroy. The mission of the police is supposed to be to protect and serve. The protests exist because the latter has been largely replaced by the former. And Trump seems to think it will help to make it official? Tim has definitely got this one filed in the right department.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, the good side, as noted, is that the guard consists of professional soldiers who may be a lot better about deciding NOT to pull the trigger on civilians than police officers.

The bad part is that Trump may at least one military victory for his term so he can claim to have been a wartime president. With everyone inclined to advise him otherwise long sacked I’m more than a little afraid that he might realize his title of commander in chief means he CAN order air strikes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: FORCE

the primary mission/purpose of BOTH the police and military is the use of Force.

the military just does it on a much larger scale than police.

Every law, regulation, and government edict in America is ultimately enforced by violence-prone government employees with weapons and shackles.
It makes little absolute difference what government uniform or job title these violent enforcers bear.

The military has been used hundreds of times for domestic law enforcement throughout American history.
There is no sacred distinction between police and military.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 FORCE

"Every law, regulation, and government edict in America is ultimately enforced"

  • Is it now. Ever hear of selective enforcement, high court/low court, two sets of rules, white privilege.

"The military has been used hundreds of times for domestic law enforcement throughout American history"

  • Hundreds? Are you referring to use of the National Guard or active military?

"There is no sacred distinction between police and military."

  • I am not a person of the cloth but …. perhaps you could explain why there are multiple governmental documents attempting to define and regulate the distinction you claim does not exist.
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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: FORCE

"There is no sacred distinction between police and military."

Except for the posse comitatus, of course, about a hundred paghes worth of legal definition, and the very dictionary-definition of a policeman contra the definition of a soldier.

Your argument leaves enough swing room to apply it to the "nonexistent" difference between a tugboat and an apple.

"The military has been used hundreds of times for domestic law enforcement throughout American history."

Yeah, most of them during the civil war. Are you sure that’s the example you want to invoke? In more modern times we have, of course, the Kent State massacre to lean on but I’m not sure you want to invoke that example either.

I’ll give you this much – it may be less likely the military will completely lose their shit and cause a massacre than the current US police force.

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jilocasin (profile) says:

the National Guard is *trained* in crowd control...

The Army National Guard at least receives explicit training in handling protests, crowd control, and riots. Unfortunately, as we have seen with various police forces, what they do with that training is often times something else entirely. Sadly it appears that Minnesota’s National Guard aren’t any better at respecting people’s rights than the Minnesota State Police or the Minneapolis police were.

Personally I am much more concerned with the prospect of the Army or Marines being called out to fire on American citizens. Hopefully our military leaders refuse to follow any unlawful orders given to them by our commander in chief.

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Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Re: the National Guard is *trained* in crowd control...

The "Posse Comitatus Act"I
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act
prohibits deployment of the regular Army in domestic disputes, something they are not trained for, and which could have a shattering effect on unit cohesion. I suspect Defense Secretary Esper got an earful of this from senior military officers.

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jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: Re: the National Guard is *trained* in crowd control...

I see your Posse Comitatus Act and raise you an Insurrection Act ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insurrection_Act_of_1807 ) which gives the president the power to use the armed forces domestically. Traditionally with the request of the state legislation or governor.

Whether or not trump’s actions would legally fall within the confines of the Insurrection Act remain to be seen.

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Upstream (profile) says:

Interesting, and more than a little scary, article from last October. It is worth clicking on the author’s link to see her background.

tldr; There are a lot of Trumpistas in the military, and "a significant portion" of them might do whatever Trump tells them, rather than uphold the military oath to ". . . support and defend the Constitution. . ."

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Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Re: . . . support and defend the Constitution

Very true. The only difference is that the Congress, SCOTUS, and White House have pens with which to sign bad laws and bully pulpits from which to spout damaging BS, whereas the military has weapons with which to kill people.

Which really isn’t much of a difference at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

For what it’s worth the National Guard tweeted denying it was them that fired on the people on their porch, instead blaming it on local Law Enforcement, of course it doesn’t help that the Police in various areas are happily running around in military gear and removing anything that can ID them from their gear – which is likely on purpose as it means each agency can pass the blame when something goes really wrong.

DB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I didn’t see the tweet denying that the shoot-on-the-porch was them.

That wasn’t a police Bearcat leading them. It was a HMMWV in desert camouflage outfitted with a turret. Does the local law enforcement operate those? With a modern GPK (Gunner Protection Kit)?

I’m guessing that the statement was a very narrow denial, along the lines that "tear gas wasn’t used in Layafette Park" where they meant ‘we used OC gas in the park itself’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, yes they do. I live outside of a rather small city / large town that is effectively a suburb of a larger, low-crime-rate city. In our calm, suburban area the local police possess 2 fully-equipped camouflage MRAPs which they love bringing out for any excuse they can such as a minor domestic violence call. They show up fully kitted out in combat gear, too, and in large numbers instead of a pair of officers in police uniform driving a standard marked car.

Even suburban police have become military thanks to that stupid program that basically hands out military combat gear to police for pennies on the dollar.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"So, not only do you have armed thugs hired by the state to terrorise peacefully assembled individuals, you have so many groups of thugs that you don’t know which one is depriving citizens of their rights?"

Prosecutor: Can you identify the badge or markings used by the masked uniformed men who shot up your house and car?

Witness: Uh, i think it was some sort of grinning clown face with dolphins making backflips over it…?

Prosecutor: There are about an even dozen units and branches of law enforcement and/or guardsmen fitting that badge. Anything more specific?

Witness: …uhh…wasn’t close enough for more details. Sir, they were firing at me..

Prosecutor: <sigh>..look, we’d like to get you some redress but you really need to at least tell us who dun it…

A stroke of genius.

That One Guy (profile) says:

It's easier to prevent a problem than to fix it

And to think, all they had to do to prevent this whole thing was not let the police become so corrupt that people rightly see them as thugs and killers, to not let the rot become so pervasive that a cop murdering a black man while three others sat back and watched was considered a horrendous outlier rather than ‘tuesday’, to not let the legal system become so wildly corrupt that people rightly know that if they want a cop to face any sort of penalty for their actions it will require a serious public outcry, and even then the system will drag it’s feet and do everything it can to avoid engaging in the heinous action so punishing a cop.

All of this could have been prevented if the police and the system that supports them simply did what they insist everyone else does, act like decent human beings and followed the gorram law.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: It's easier to prevent a problem than to fix it

"All of this could have been prevented if the police and the system that supports them simply did what they insist everyone else does, act like decent human beings and followed the gorram law."

But that wouldn’t fit the narrative of conservative politicians being really tough on crime.
EVERY time a policeman murdered a civilian the people – usually conservatives – pushing for tougher laws and immediate action have had to defend the policeman or leave a political gap for the liberals to insert leverage by meeting a popular demand for accountability. Rinse and repeat. As a result whatever the US police was intended to be it has now been carefully trained and taught that yes, they can murder people in the open and a crowd of republican politicians will instantly emerge to have their backs.

This has been building for decades and the racists who’ve been around since civil war times pining for the loss of the confederacy have been all too pleased to also take the opportunity to bring back the lynch mob by donning the badge.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's easier to prevent a problem than to fix it

It also doesn’t help that the Police benefit more from not knowing the law, as long as they think they are enforcing a law that they think exists, apparently that’s okay with prosecutors as they get an easy win.

The whole ‘disrespecting a cop’ law comes to mind, which doesn’t exist, but how many people have been beaten and brutalized for violating it? Your mileage may vary, depending on skin tone unfortunately

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: the Police benefit from not knowing the law

Yes, the rest of the justice system has been grooming the police state for a while, giving a network of tools to circumvent responsibility and checks on their power. At this point, District Attorneys are the Moffs of the United State (Sam Bee noting that they are over 90% white, male and Christian), and themselves hold prosecutory discretion which which they can withhold the use of overreaching laws until a lowlife or loser might get away for not having broken any reasonable law.

Think of the CFAA and Espionage laws in the case of political activists who are too effective.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: the Police benefit from not knowing the law

"…and themselves hold prosecutory discretion which which they can withhold the use of overreaching laws until a lowlife or loser might get away for not having broken any reasonable law."

And to think the Founding Fathers wanted a republic because they were afraid the individual citizen could be threatened and repressed by mob rule where the democratic majority all decided to eat the lunch of the minority…
…and here we are, with a directly elected office which holds sole personal discretion over life and death.

In the blooper reel of the founding fathers, this part is what starts it off.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But if the military isn't equipped to handle civilians

The only really plausible excuse I can come up with is that they wouldn’t take the surplus equipment at the recycling depot, and it was cheaper to give it away than to take it apart and turn it into something else.

Because your comment really gets into how the problem has evolved – militarization of the police, along with the attitude that comes with it doesn’t belong in a free society.

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Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Re: But if the military isn't equipped to handle civilians

Sometimes I find it easier to remember this way:

It’s not a war on drugs…it’s a war on your rights.

It’s not a war on terror…it’s a war on your rights.

It’s not a war on encryption…it’s a war on your rights.

It’s not a . . .well, you get the idea.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But if the military isn't equipped to handle civilians

For the same reason they do shit like this:

Law enforcement agents have seized hundreds of cloth masks that read “Stop killing Black people” and “Defund police” that a Black Lives Matter-affiliated organization sent to cities around the country to protect demonstrators against the spread of Covid-19, a disease that has had a disparate impact on Black communities.

The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) spent tens of thousands of dollars on the masks they had planned to send all over the country.

ECA (profile) says:

strange times..

WOuld it be nice to suggest to the cops..
That remembering the past of what has happened creates the future THEY must live in..
FIX IT, PREVENT IT, and things might get better for the police.
DO nothing, and it COULD get allot worse.

OUR problem is Who gets the jobs we REALLY dont want…and the training they SHOULD get..How much are we willing to PAY to educate a police officer? its already expensive, as the corps are doing it.

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