‘Trump is wrong; militarized police forces will not make American streets safer’
Police forces in the US will again be allowed to use military grade equipment after a new executive order.
Advocates of Trump’s initiative argue the police need better protection when responding to high-risk calls, including civil unrest and terror attacks.
However, critics are denouncing the move as deepening the divide between law enforcement and the people they serve.
RT spoke to Michelle Gross, the president of Communities United Against Police Brutality to discuss the reviving of a program that provided local police departments with surplus military equipment.
RT: Donald Trump made this decision amid protests against racism in the country. Do you believe this will lead to increased security?
Michelle Gross: Not in the least. I think this makes the conditions in this country far less safe. Because we are not talking about protective gear here, we are talking about things like grenade launchers, militarized vehicles, weaponized vehicles. There is nothing about these kinds of devices provided under the 1033 program that would make the community safer. I think it is a very dangerous precedent; it is a very bad idea. It adds to the level of danger in this country. Trying to act on your First Amendment rights, you could get gunned down by military vehicles in the streets of this country. I think it is terrible.
RT: Police in the US are often accused of using excessive force, even brutality. How do you think the Trump administration is going to address this issue?
MG: He has already shown us that he doesn’t intend to address this issue whatsoever. In fact, he actually encourages police officers to engage in brutality. He did that in a speech before the Fraternal Order of Police. He has indicated many times that he frankly doesn’t care about people’s civil rights. I don’t think that he has one ounce of interest in warning about people’s civil rights. He was completely mistaken about the crime levels in this country – they are at a 20-year low. We don’t need militarized police running through the streets with things like grenade launchers and tanks and this kind of business. I think it is a grave danger to the civil liberties in this country, and it portrays a government out of control. This is not the policing that people want in the community. It completely undermines any ability to improve police-community relations. The things people have been working the last few years, he has literally gutted those. And I find that very distressing. People in our community do not want to see armed military vehicle rolling down the streets of Minneapolis.
The militarization of the police will make more problems, in as much as this so-called civil unrest is synthetic. These groups receive funding from George Soros and other persons, in fact President Obama gave millions of dollars to groups to create this discord. So, this isn’t an organic conflict between American citizens, but paid actors. This is a Deep State or Dark State operation. Further militarization of the police want stop people that are paid to be disruptive and violent from doing so. - Dr. Randy Short, US human rights activist, to RT
RT: What reaction do you expect from American society at large? Trump's supporters seem to like his ‘tough on crime’ stance. Will there be support for giving police greater access to military equipment?
MG: I think that the support that Trump has – clearly you could look at the polls and you can see that he does not have the wide support of the community. But more than that, the things that you do have to be based on facts. He keeps talking about what a horrible crime problem we have. But in fact, violent crime is down at a 20-year low. It is ridiculous to militarize the police. He asserts that militarizing the police will decrease crime. And in fact, it does what it does - it increases crime and police brutality. We don’t think it is a crime reduction mechanism whatsoever. And I think that people who look at those kinds of things from a factual basis, not just some sort of imagery, but from a factual basis agree that you do not decrease crime by rolling military vehicles down the street.
The other thing to think about is this: one of the things that does decrease crime is increased trust within the community, being able to communicate with cops, to able to say they have witnessed things without feeling endangered by doing so. These kinds of actions of remilitarizing the police make the community less trustful and therefore law enforcement is a much more dangerous job and a more difficult job. I would absolutely assert that it is the opposite of what Trump is saying is going to happen out of this.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.