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The Real Reason Ferguson Has Military Weapons

Kara Dansky,
Former Senior Counsel,
ACLU Center for Justice
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August 19, 2014

This piece was originally published on

It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it’s armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades. The weaponry has changed, but the target is still the same.

If some of the photos from Ferguson last week were in black and white, you might confuse them with scenes from the 1950s south. White police officers beating black protestors. Young black men lying face down in the street with police officers standing over them with assault rifles.

We have a long history of aggressively policing communities of color in America. Police have treated black and brown people like the enemy for decades. In that context, the recent events in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting come as no surprise. But they go way beyond Ferguson.

What we’re witnessing is the militarization of policing, and it has become commonplace in towns across America.

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