The American military is prohibited from deploying within the United States, but local law enforcement organizations are becoming increasingly militarized, as surplus gear from the Pentagon flows to main street.
Even without military gear, the horrifying regularity of police violence against black and brown people continues unabated in marginalized communities.
Over-policing and excessive use of force against protesters has resulted in deaths from the Haymarket Affair in 1886 to the student massacres at Orangeburg, Jackson State and Kent State to the bombing of MOVE and the siege at Ruby Ridge.
The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the use of surveillance drones in US airspace, and local police departments are beginning to purchase drones, armored personnel carriers, and other military equipment. These tools can be used to carry out surveillance, invade privacy, and suppress nonviolent protests, threatening constitutional rights of Americans in jurisdictions from coast to coast.
A Justice Department proposal would step back from requiring states to report deaths in custody, and instead would rely on media reports of police shootings and violence.
If the national political conventions are a touchstone of our democracy, why are First Amendment rights outside the conventions so precarious?
“Republicans came out in favor of stricter regulations for aerial surveillance devices, except when those devices are being used by the government to monitor undocumented immigrants from crossing the border. The platform also came out in opposition to the government requiring surveillance devices in the daily lives of Americans, and cited tracking devices on motor vehicles as an example.”
Oakland Privacy Working Group activists have scored another victory, this time against police militarization.