By Josh Ely
The developing violence in Ferguson, Missouri, where throngs have been rioting for several days over the shooting death by a police officer of an 18-year-old high school graduate, has put on display the country’s increasingly militarized local police force, according to the author of “Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare is Becoming Our Reality.”
Cheryl Chumley has been watching developments in Missouri, where Michael Brown was shot over the weekend, and just overnight two more people were shot, including one by police.
“Armored vehicles on patrol, Kevlar-wearing, camouflage dressed officials carting high-powered rifles, tear gas wafting through the air – sounds like something right off the streets of Iraq. But it’s not. It’s actually the scene that’s playing out in Ferguson right now, with SWAT-type police taking to the residential streets for crowd control duties,” she said.
She questioned whether the massive response was justified.
WND has reported the reaction to the fatal shooting Saturday has included riots, looting and stores burned down. Overnight, two more people were shot, one a woman who was hit in a drive-by shooting and a man hit by an officer after he allegedly aimed a weapon at the policeman.
KTVI-TV in St. Louis reported four men, masked and carrying shotguns, approached a crowd at about 1 a.m. The report said when police arrived they heard shots fired and people running, and when one officer chased a suspect, the “gunman” pointed a handgun at the officer and the officer fired.
The report said the suspect was hospitalized in critical condition.
A video posted on YouTube by a protester also had an officer explaining that a woman also was shot in what reportedly was a drive-by shooting.
Several suspects were being sought in that shooting.
KTVI also said it received an email that apparently was “an alert from the FBI.”
“It says a New Black Panther Party member is advocating violence against law enforcement in response to the shooting of Michael Brown.”
WND reported earlier on the Brown shooting. Rioting erupted within a short time, and Mayor James Knowles told WND that outsiders came into the town to join in the looting and violence. Within hours of the outbreak of violence, 32 arrests had been made and two officers injured.
Brown, a recent high school graduate, was in a struggle over a police officer’s gun when he was shot, according to officials. But his mother, Lesley McSpadden, rejects the official version and wants the officer who fired the lethal shots to receive the death penalty.
The trend toward massive machines, weaponized officers and more worries Chumley.
“While looting has no doubt become an issue in the area, and protesters have reportedly taken on more violent tones, it has to be asked: Do police really need to dress like battleground soldiers to get the crowds into control?
“What ever happened to the old ‘serve and protect’ model and mantra of civilian policing?” she asked.
Chumley said the task may have been better left out of police’s hands from the beginning.
“Far too often these days, police are taking on much more militarized duties. Ferguson is just the latest example of where we see that. But most Americans need only look to their own backyards to see how police are snapping up military gear through the Pentagon’s … program that lets local law enforcement buy cast-aways from soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq,” she said
“This trend is turning the local cop on a beat into a lock-and-load fighting machine with a shoot first ask questions later mentality. Many have already been injured – or even killed – by this dangerous police trend. The big question is: Can our Constitution survive?”
From traffic light cameras to phone tapping, from militarized police forces to targeting specific groups of people, the government is unfettered in its desire to control the American people, she contends in her book.
“Police State USA” chronicles how America got to the point of what Chumley believes is a de facto police state and how the nation’s freedoms, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, might be recaptured.
Josh Ely is an intern for WND.