The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Military Policing: "First Step" by Administration

Interviews Available


The New York Times reports: "President Obama on Monday will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others, administration officials said."

A PDF of the White House recommendations is here.

The announcement, scheduled for 3:05 ET will be streamed here.

A leading expert on police militarization, Peter Kraska, just wrote the short piece "Cultural Shift Needed on Police Militarization" for IPA.

MICHAEL SHANK, (646) 574-8903,, @michael_shank

Adjunct faculty member at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University who has worked extensively on police militarization, Shank said today: "The White House is sending the right message to the Fergusons and Baltimores of America: our cops shouldn't look like, feel like or act like soldiers. The Obama administration's plan to scale back substantially on federally-funded military gear gifts to U.S. police forces is the right response to America's increasingly militarized municipalities. Congress should set this in stone before the next administration reverses it. But while the White House prohibits tank-type 'tracked' weaponized vehicles, police can still get 'wheeled' armored or tactical vehicles. That means MRAPs can remain on American main streets, and the Ferguson military fights of the future may still be federally-funded."

JUSTIN HANSFORD, (202) 702-8538,, @blackstarjus

Assistant professor at the University of St. Louis School of Law, Justin said today: "This seems like a step in the right direction. But remember, neither Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, nor Eric Garner were killed with grenade launders or tanks. Racial targeting and anti-black police violence can survive demilitarization. At the base, the danger is that this is a way to 'deracialize' the debate, and make it about anything other than race.

"But even so, militarization plays a role in the eagerness police have to use force in black communities, and the use of militarized tactics in SWAT raids of the type that killed Ayanna Jones in Detroit. It limits police officers' ability to relate to people as individuals, or to find ways to resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Currently, many American police see minority communities not as citizens but as enemies and targets. Militarization makes it worse."

Here is Hansford's testimony before the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

SHAHID BUTTAR, cell: (202) 316-9229,, @bordc, @sheeyahshee

Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Buttar said today: "Today's announcement is among the Obama administration's first attempts to address police violence and misconduct after more than six years in office. While long overdue, it includes at least three welcome and important policies: (1) limits on the military force structure available to local police, (2) new requirements for approval by local elected officials, ensuring community accountability, and (3) transparency requirements governing over 20 police departments that will publicly report data about the demographic impacts of at least some police activities.

"These measures are among the recommendations that the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has long proposed. Others in the Justice Department's Task Force on 21st Century Policing report -- like the recommendation for nationwide transparency along the lines adopted by some cities -- will require action beyond today's announcement in order to become real.

"Two big questions remain. First, will communities whose outrage forced the administration's hand remain vocal enough to drive the implementation of today's welcome rhetoric into policy? Second, can a change in federal policy this late in an administration secure a meaningful change in local police culture before the White House changes hands in less than 22 months?"

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.