By Josh Ely
President Obama, responding to outrage toward the militarized police presence in riot-stricken Ferguson, Missouri, this week, has proposed a “re-examination” of the Pentagon’s weapons handout program.
“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,” Obama said.
The rioting erupted after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen. Evidence suggests the nearly 300-pound 18-year-old may have been charging at the officer at the time of the shooting, as the bullet wounds were in the front of his body. The teen’s advocates claim he had stopped and raised his hands in surrender before he was shot.
Billions of dollars worth of high-tech military equipment has transferred from the military to local police departments over recent years, allowing even small departments to have weaponized mine-resistant Army vehicles, massive weapons like grenade launchers and more under the nation’s “1033” program.
“I think it’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff that they actually need,” Obama said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has criticized aspects of the handouts program, recently issued a report on the controversy.
The report, says Cheryl Chumley, author of “Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming our Reality,” is “insightful and informative.”
“The ACLU is dead wrong on a number of issues – but on this, on the red flag raised on militarized police, the group is dead on correct,” she said.
She said the Obama administration has had little interest until now in examining the process of distributing war weapons to police departments.
“He’s likely been quiet because of statements he made in mid-2008 calling for a civilian police force akin to the size and power of the nation’s military – and now he sees the fruits of that desire are not so appetizing after all.”
WND reported at the time that a copy of Obama’s Colorado Springs speech posted online apparently was edited to exclude Obama’s specific references to the new force.
Chumley said the Obama administration been busy exercising its influence in several ways, including announcing it would monitor the National Guard deployment in Ferguson and dispatching Attorney General Eric Holder to the St. Louis suburb.
Chumley believes that use of federal authority and power is a harbinger.
The ACLU report also included references to federal influence, she said.
Now, she said, “The topic has moved into open discussion, from the perceived tin-hat types to even the liberal-elite talking heads.”
Without those brakes, she said, there is “a real and growing threat to the Constitution, to innocent Americans’ safety, to the rule of law and the fate of our nation.”
So it is “about dang time” that people start conversing, she said.
Her book examines federal activities from traffic light cameras to phone tapping, militarized police forces and the targeting specific groups of people.
Talk-show host and Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce praised Chumley’s book.
“One of the first things necessary to take back this nation is becoming informed,” Bruce said. “‘Police State USA’ is the book that will get you there and inspire you to defend this nation from big government zealots who believe you won’t notice what they’re up to.”
Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of the Fox News Channel “Huckabee” program, said the book was “fascinating, very timely, and I hope that Americans take it up and read it.”
Huckabee noted the case of a toddler in Florida who had half his face blown off by a flash-bang grenade launched by a SWAT team. And he raised questions about a lawsuit in Evansville, Indiana, in which officers smashed through a front door belonging to a 68-year-old and threw flash-bang grenades to serve a search warrant.
“This is all part of a larger question. Not just are our police departments becoming militarized, but are we becoming a ‘Police State USA’?” she asked, referencing the weaponized agents for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies.