Democracy For America

Tell Congress: It's time to demilitarize the police

The images from Ferguson, Missouri, are shocking. In an outrageous overreaction to the protests that have erupted demanding answers and accountability in the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, police responded by shooting tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades at children, nonviolent protesters and reporters.

When Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly was unfairly arrested by police on Wednesday, he said "that the police resembled soldiers more than officers."

This problem isn't unique to Ferguson. Chances are that your own police department already has militarized itself. The Pentagon has used part of a little known law, known as Section 1033, to sell surplus weapons from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to local police.

Instead of getting out of their cars and working with communities to tackle crime, police increasingly hide behind high tech weapons, vehicles and armor made for use on a battlefield -- not the city streets of small town America. In Ferguson, we are starkly witnessing how this limits freedom and puts law-abiding Americans safety at risk. Congress needs to put a stop to this.