America’s response to London riots

Riot police tackle a mob after a number of cars are set alight in Hackney, north London on August 8, 2011 (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
With civil unrest spreading into the western world, the US is readying what to do should mass riots break out state-side.

What exactly is the official plan of action should the government need to step in and squash demonstrators? Send the military after minorities.

Marc Ambinder, a White House correspondent at The National Journal, writes that the armed forces have plans should widespread riots infiltrate America.

“If what happened in London ever happened in the US, the military has plans – CONPLAN 3501 and 3502 – to suppress the insurrection,” writes Ambinder. The instructions contained with the CONPLAN guidelines are believed to be initiatives that the US can enact during times of domestic disturbances.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, CONPLAN 3502 is what the military can put into play if state and local authorities are subjected to mass rioting. They say that the instructions in CONPLAN 3502 outline that "Tasks performed by military forces may include joint patrolling with law enforcement officers; securing key buildings, memorials, intersections and bridges; and acting as a quick reaction force."

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution allows Congress to employ the military if necessary to keep order in America. Explicitly, the legislation states that "Congress shall have power… to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasion.” Though the lingo contained within the US Constitution is by 200-some-odd years, in today’s terms “militia” would apply to the US Armed Forces.

The Atlantic Wire reports that many believe that the CONPLAN initiatives were used with constitutional support in recent years, dating back to the 1992 LA Riots and perhaps as recently as the panic that followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Nate Jones of the National Security Archive says that the instructions aligned to the CONPLAN initiatives shockingly instruct military personnel that minorities should be monitored to gauge an outbreak of violence. In the documents, “indicators” or rioting includes high unemployment rates among minorities, increased crime rates among minorities, protests arising from income disparities between minorities and majorities and declining rapport between authorities and minorities, among others.

In other words — as long as inequality exists in America, rioting is always on the horizon.