Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A Miami Police officer watches protestors from an armored vehicle during a rally in Miami, Florida on May 31, 2020 in response to the killing of George Floyd. (Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images)

With Militarization of Cops on Full Display, Senator Plans Amendment to End Transfer of Military Equipment to Local Police

"Militarizing local police forces doesn't make our communities safer."

Jake Johnson

With the militarization of local police forces on full display as heavily armed cops and armored vehicles patrol the streets and crack down on protests over the killing of George Floyd, Sen. Brian Schatz on Sunday said he plans to introduce an amendment to end the federal program that permits the transfer of excess military equipment to police departments across the nation.

"Police departments have come to resemble military units, contributing to deadly violence disproportionately against black Americans."
—Philip McHarris, Yale University

"I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments," the Hawaii Democrat tweeted late Sunday.

Julián Castro, the former Housing Secretary, applauded Schatz's proposal, warning that "as long as our police arm up like a combat force, they'll act like it."

President Donald Trump in 2017 rolled back Obama-era limits on the 1033 Program, which authorizes the Defense Department to send military equipment and weapons to local police departments. As NBC reported at the time, "Congress created the program in 1990 during the height of the war on drugs for federal and state law enforcement agencies, and it was expanded seven years later to include all law enforcement departments."

"Since the program's inception," NBC noted, "more than $5.4 billion in equipment has flowed to police."

The response by local law enforcement to the nationwide uprising that followed Floyd's killing has heightened scrutiny of the 1033 Program, with lawmakers and activists warning that access to military hardware has made police behavior toward protesters even more brutal and violent.

"Militarizing local police forces doesn't make our communities safer," tweeted Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Philip McHarris, a PhD candidate in sociology and African American studies at Yale University, wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post last week that "police departments have come to resemble military units, contributing to deadly violence disproportionately against black Americans."

"The cycle of police brutality sparking unrest, and that unrest being met by the militarized police is increasingly familiar in modern American society," wrote McHarris. "Tough-on-crime policies and militarized police departments have paved the way for increased police contact and tragic violence. Reducing the capacity for police to engage in routine and militaristic violence is the only way to break recurring cycles of police killings and the militarized response that protests of them are often met with."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo