A bill in the California State Legislature would require law enforcement agencies obtain permission from their respective city, county, or state legislative body before acquiring surplus military equipment from the federal government.

Introduced by Assemblyman Nora Campos, Assembly Bill 36 (AB36) would “prohibit a local agency from receiving surplus military equipment….unless the legislative body of the local agency votes to approve the acquisition at a public meeting. The bill would also declare that this is a matter of statewide concern.”

Although AB36 wouldn’t put an end to the militarization of California law enforcement, it would allow citizens to pressure their local councilmembers at a city or county level to vote against such acquisitions or face the consequences come the next election. At it is, citizens have little to no means of preventing these transfers.

Almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participate in the military “recycling” program, and the share of equipment and weaponry gifted each year continues to expand. In 2011, $500 million worth of military equipment was distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. That number jumped to $546 million in 2012. Since 1990, $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies through the 1033 program, in addition to various other programs supposedly aimed at fighting the so-called War on Drugs and War on Terror.

For example, the Department of Homeland Security has delivered roughly $34 billion to police departments throughout the country since 9/11, ostensibly to purchase more gear for their steady growing arsenals of military weapons and equipment.

These grants through the federal government have created a paramilitary force outfitted with war gear from Iraq and Afghanistan. Through theDoD 1033 military surplus program military hardware used in wars are transferred to local and state police. Not only that, training with the US military and even foreign militaries are funded through these programs.

According to a New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo, 435 armored vehicles, 44,900 nightvision goggles, 535 planes or helicopters, 93,763 machine guns, and 180,718 magazines have been transferred to local and state police departments across the nation.

Local and state police should be interacting with the community they are policing, and creating an atmosphere of being able to go to a police officer for help. Federal programs are breaking that connection and are directly forming an offensive paramilitary force against a people. The federal programs delude local and state police that they need this military equipment or they will die, and train cops to believe in maintaining “order” rather than protecting the rights of the people.

ACTION ITEMS

For California: Support this bill by following all the action steps at THIS LINK

For Other States: Take steps in your state at this link.


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