As We Remember the Militarized Response to the Ferguson Uprising, Trump Says Civilian Police Are Making ‘Good Use’ of Military Weapons

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It was this shooting that woke this country up to the epidemic of police violence.

We as a nation have watched dozens of fatal police shootings, often of unarmed boys and men of color since August 9, 2014. 

We've seen almost no police accountability for these fatalities over the last few years. In 2014 and 2015,  zero officers were convicted of murder or manslaughter, while in 2016 there have been just a few convictions. And we’ve witnessed the outrage and protest around these unjustified shootings being met with militarized policing.

The militarized response to the uprising in Ferguson shocked America. It shocked the world. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) declared, “Ferguson resembles Fallujah.” The sniper rifles, armored vehicles, and tear gas turned on Ferguson protesters were stunning, and yet it could have happened in countless communities in this country.

In the ACLU’s report, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing” — published just a few weeks before the Ferguson uprising — we explained that militarized policing was routine for many communities, particularly those hit hardest by the war on drugs. We shed light on the Department of Defense 1033 program — a military weapon giveaway that brings weapons of war from the battlefield to your hometown.

Though there are several federal programs that provide local law enforcement with military weapons, 1033 is the most dangerous. President Obama was right to reform it and prohibit the transfer of certain weapons, like bayonets and tanks, and to restrict other weapons like Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, from being sent to police departments. To learn that these modest reforms may have been in name only was deeply disturbing.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, released a truly shocking report on the 1033 program. Setting themselves up as a fake law enforcement agency, GAO investigators applied for military gear and received $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bomb equipment, and night vision goggles, among other 1033 equipment.

GAO officials who ran the sting operation couldn’t believe how easy it was to trick the Pentagon into transferring military gear to a federal law enforcement agency — and a fake one at that. “They never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email,” a GAO official told The Marshall Project. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”

And if this isn’t troubling enough, there’s President Trump’s take on 1033, which he delivered in the same speech where he incited police violence generally.

In late July, as Donald Trump told law enforcement in Long Island, New York, “don’t be too nice” to “these thugs,” he assured them that the 1033 equipment was “being put to good use.” Trump said, “the stuff is disappearing so fast we have none left.” According to Trump, he changed the rules around 1033 on his “first day,” though there’s no evidence of this at all.

During the campaign, Trump made clear that he was a fan of 1033, calling it “an excellent program that enhances community safety.” He pledged to rescind Obama’s executive order around militarized policing. Again, it is not clear if and when he did this, certainly not to the public and not even to officials at the Department of Defense. At a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing last month, witnesses from the Department of Defense recommitted to operating 1033 consistent with the Obama reforms, even acknowledging that city councils or other local governing bodies are required to sign off on certain military weapons before they are received.

Given the GAO report and Trump’s comment, the best thing to do is suspend the 1033 program. The ACLU has asked for a suspension before, and now we’ve been joined by the Democratic leadership of the House Armed Services Committee. “The Defense Department,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Madeleine (D-Guam) in a joint statement, “should not be providing military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies until we can be sure the program is capable of preventing dangerous items from falling into the wrong hands.”

As we are reminded on the third anniversary of Michael Brown’s death and the protests it provoked, it looks like 1033 is in the wrong hands with President Trump. Only change will prevent future death and tragedy and advance the reforms so desperately needed to fulfill law enforcement’s promise to serve and protect.

View comments (40)
Read the Terms of Use

Mathew Edward F...

Hello my name is Mathew Edward Fenwick, I live in Alamo California. For some time, approximately ten years the Sheriff’s office of Contra Costa County, respective city police along with government employees, Gordon Fenwick, Nancy Fenwick, Susan Buckosky and private entities have conspired to violate my civil rights in the areas of employment, education, health care, housing, wrongful conviction, obstruction of justice into a criminal investigation concerning RICO violations and extreme harassment of which the consequences amount to attempted murder. I have an immense amount of evidence concerning the violations of employment, harassment, medical malpractice, fraud against my bank account, police on video violating my rights at school, cancellation of my math class and RICO violations. You can contact me at Please e-mail or in person only as my electronic communications are jammed.
Here are some legal thoughts on a possible case. I Have what amounts not only to preponderance of evidence for a civil suit but I believe enough evidence for a criminal case.
42 U.S.C. 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights.
5.1.A.2 “persons acting under color of state law”. Persons was broadened in Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services to include cities and local governments whose custom, policy or practice caused the deprivation.
14th Amendment. Section one. No state shall make or enforce a law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens; nor shall any state deprive any person of life liberty or property without due process of law nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
5.1.A.2.b Private parties as state actors; court looks at:
1. Extent to which the actor relies on governmental assistance and benefits.
2. Whether the actor is performing a traditional government function.
3. Whether injury caused was aggravated in some way by the incidents of governmental authority.
One can generalize that deprivation of rights by a private party can constitute “state action” if:
1. Delegated its authority to a private actor.
2. Participated in joint activity to a degree that the actions of one party can be 0contributed to another.
3. Created a legal framework necessary to carry out the private action.
4. Compelled the private party to act in a certain way.
5. Knowingly accepted the benefits of an unconstitutional practice.
6. The private entity is carrying out a traditional “state function”.
7. The government has created a special relationship with the plaintiff.
Physicians and psychiatrists acting under “color of state law” violated 8th amendment.
Deprivation of adequate medical treatment.
State employment is generally sufficient to render the defendant a state actor.
18 U.S.C. 1503, 1510, 1512, 1513, 1514
A: Obstruction may consist of any attempt to hinder the discovery, apprehension, conviction, or punishment of anyone who has committed a crime. Acts by which justice is obstructed may include bribery, murder, intimidation and the use of physical force against a witness, law enforcement or court officials.
1512. Tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
(a)(1)(c) prevent communication by any person to law enforcement of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a crime.
(2) Whoever uses physical force or the threat of physical force with intent
(c) hinder, delay or prevent the communication to law enforcement the commission or possible commission of a crime.
(3)(b) Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades, or engages in misleading conduct towards another person with intent to
(3)(c) Whoever corruptly-
1. Alters, destroys documents.
2. Otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding.
(d) Intentionally harasses to hinder, delay, prevent or dissuade
(f) for the purpose of this section
(1) an official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offence.
Additional penalties for harassment.
Compensation for injuries.
Restitution for fraud or crimes of violence.
Discrimination that interferes with: employment, education, housing is unlawful.
Violations of the 14th Amendment.
By obstructing my investigation into possible family and government RICO violations I am being deprived of due process of law and equal protection of the laws.
42 1964 U.S.C.A. 2000 et seq. and 1968 25 U.S.C.A 1301 et. seq. both establish right of injured party to sue and obtain damages from any individual who illegally infringes with a person’s civil rights, conspires to deprive or abuses either government authority or public office to accomplish suck acts.
18 U.S.C. 371 conspiracies.
A conspiracy exists as long as measures are taken to conceal the evidence of a crime.
Conspiracy may exist in a civil case if the plaintiff has suffered an injury as a result of the conspiracy.
A corporation is considered a person for conspiracy purposes.
The agreement may be proved by circumstantial evidence.
5.1.A section 1983. Vehicle for enforcing existing federal rights provides right to bring action in federal court. For violations of civil rights by state or local officials, by private parties acting in concert with state or by private parties alone.
Elements of section 1983. Deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by constitution and laws by a person acting “under color” of state law. Not required to exhaust state procedures or remedies before filing suit.
The preponderance of evidence will show it was their criminal intent to defraud and deprive me of my civil rights and to hinder an investigation into police corruption, RICO violations among police, my family and other state actors. Criminal intent may be presumed from the commission of the crimes. Prosecution may rely on the presumption that a person intends the natural and probable consequences of their actions.
100.1, 100.13 Department of Education. Extends to all state education agencies. School must provide services that are free from discriminatory harassment that limits educational opportunities.
C.P.C. 415 Disturbing the peace.
(1) Unlawfully fighting or challenging another person to fight.
(2) Disturbing another person by loud or unreasonable noise. If this is done willfully and maliciously, and
(3) Using offensive words in a public place if the words are likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.


Very informative! I have contacted you.


Great informative post contact you soon, Thanks


Wow you seem to know your stuff. Hope you get the help you need!

Defense Logisti...

I am with the Defense Logistics Agency and our agency manages the 1033 program highlighted in this blog. I would like to point out some inaccurate information for you and your readers.

First, I'd like to point out that linking the events in Ferguson to the 1033 program is inaccurate. The equipment that the Ferguson police department used during the protests was not provided by the 1033 program. Police departments can acquire equipment in several ways--including grants from Dept of Justice. But the Ferguson PD was not using 1033 equipment during the protests.

Also, the 1033 program does not, and has never, transferred tanks to law enforcement agencies. The tracked vehicles the 1033 program used to transfer were not offensive combat vehicles like tanks. They were personnel carriers used expressly to protect those they carried. All of the 1033 tracked vehicles were recalled and, as of April 1, 2016, law enforcement agencies had returned all of them. Also, to characterize an MRAP as a weapon, is misleading. It also is a protective vehicle designed to withstand small arms and improvised explosive devices. It also has high wheelbase clearance that that law enforcement agencies have found useful in a variety of disaster response scenarios. It has no weapons.

The 1033 Program was authorized by Congress in 1997 as a way to get additional useful life from equipment that the military no longer needed. The vast majority of the items available are things found on the commercial market, like office furniture, computers, and trucks that cash-strapped local police would otherwise go without. Only a small fraction is controlled items that are cited in this blog. Also, as a result of President Obama's executive order, civilian political leaders must review and approve requests from their law enforcement agencies for controlled property, which appropriately puts oversight where it belongs -- at the community level.

Like most Americans, we fully support a robust debate on public policy issues like this, but the conclusions and decisions should be based on facts, not rhetoric. If Congress withdrew the authorization of the program, we would simply resume the disposition and destruction of this excess/unneeded equipment. At the same time, we understand the importance of optimizing tax payer dollars where possible, and are committed to improving the management and oversight of a program that most law makers and law enforcement agencies find vital.

Dan M.

I don't think our police should have or need military equipment. They are supposed to 'serve and protect' our citizens. Not to display force or use intimidating actions when there is an 'incident'. Just my opinion.

Nspire better

Wrong on 2 counts, albeit plausible:
(1) personnel carriers can drive right through wood frame houses, so for civilian purposes, they're the same as tanks, minus a cannon.
(2) armored carriers are designed to protect troops in deadly cross fire situations, to and from battle. How often is there any similar to that, in any SWAT situation? ZERO!


Thanks a lot for your reply +1


America and united kingdom, with russia, france and germany now not a ways in the back of. Maximum of israels military hardware comes from the usa, lots of middle jap nations in addition to pakistan and india buy tanks from the UK (even though purposely scaled down in potential) and the ak-74 is one of the maximum prolific weapons on the planet.

Anonymous has a pool of over 3000+ experts from Australia, UK and US. They are highly qualified and skilled professional writers who have vast experience in writing assignments, dissertations, essays, research papers, term papers etc. Each expert is chosen after rigorous testing and has to prove his academic credentials.

Visit us: -


Stay Informed