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This Is Only A Drill

by Abby Zimet

Last week, wide-eyed residents of Miami stared - and sometimes hit the deck - as Blackhawk choppers roared overhead, strafing downtown with blank machine-gun fire. Officials explained it was "just a military training exercise... to ensure that military personnel are able to operate in urban areas and to focus on preparations for overseas deployment," and that "public safety is our number one priority." Umm, okay. But what exactly is it they're training for? The chopper incident is the latest move in a massive militarization of local law enforcement, as cities and towns arm up with taxpayer-funded, ever more lethal toys - check out the $300,000, 16,000-pound, 80-mph, bullet-proof BearCat G3 - thanks to billions of dollars in Homeland Security grants and "donated" military equipment from our dwindling wars. Most worrisome are still-unregulated domestic drones - to date, the feds have authorized 30,000 drone flights - especially as more cities seek to arm them with tear gas and rubber bullets, and more questions about their uses - drone stalking? - arise.  Charlottesville, Virgina is fighting them. You can too. Here's the choppers.