“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”: Intersections of Military and Police [Blog] – Generation Justice

It was six o’clock in the morning when I received the call from my grandma. She was sobbing. She asked if I had seen the news. A homeless, unarmed man had been shot and killed by the police.

My bed was not a suitable place for boiling blood.


Albuquerque/Ferguson

The scenes in Ferguson are terrifying. Swat geared military-looking snipers sitting atop tanks with shotguns pointed at peaceful protesters. Tear gas canisters, and other explosives, flying through the air. Sirens designed to create such overwhelming discomfort within the eardrum that they force groups of people to scatter. Lines of armed “soldiers” moving in on civilians. I have never seen anything like this in the United States.

My mind keeps going back to the day my grandma told me that James Boyd had been killed, or to the days when I would attend protests against APD brutality. I would hear families of victims speak about the injustice that remains in their hearts because a loved one had been killed senselessly by the police.

The aggressive culture of police across the United States isn’t a new phenomenon. Even as a child, I witnessed many arrests and I never understood why they were occurring. It wasn’t until later in life when I understood that, more often than not, it was a misuse of authority.

So, where is all of this brutality coming from? Why are people afraid of the police? Why aren’t the police making civilians feel safe? What happened to serving and protecting?

So many questions that need to be addressed, yet they remain unanswered.

 

(Photo credit: AP/Jeff Roberson)

Militarization?

The military is an institution that I have always questioned. Not only because I’m a peace advocate, but also because I don’t believe in demonizing people, and that’s precisely what all military systems do. They are trained to dehumanize people; they are trained to fight the enemy.

It was at a protest when I first heard that United States police departments were being sent to train with the Israeli army. I didn’t believe it at first. It sounded so absurd to me that I assumed it was a faulty conspiracy theory. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

It’s no wonder the police bombarded the streets of Ferguson with tanks and explosives – they had been trained by active sponsors of war! I’ve encountered people who don’t see this as a problem. Allow me to explain why I believe it is. First of all, police are supposed to be representatives of all civilians. Serving and protecting civilians is supposed to be their main priority. But this becomes nearly impossible when they receive extensive training to dehumanize people. Second, we are not the enemy. There should be complete separation of military and police. They were created as two separate institutions, with two separate purposes. Third, if police are trained to treat civilians as the enemy, violence between police and civilians becomes inevitable. You don’t approach people with aggression and expect them to react peacefully. This will lead to more violence, more arrests, and higher rates of incarceration.


Plan of Action

When authority figures no longer serve and protect the people, it becomes a responsibility of the people to serve and protect themselves. The violence at the hands of police/military that we have experienced nationally and internationally has sparked outrage, and people are coming together to say, “NO MORE!” When the people of Ferguson were out in the streets exercising their right to protest, police responded with overwhelming, unnecessary military force. When news and images spread around the world, the response of solidarity was incredible. Palestinians were counseling the people in Missouri on how to avoid and handle chemical weapons (tear gas). Several Palestinians mentioned that the tear gas (made by the same corporations) was tested on them first.

I was overwhelmed by these statements – a shared struggle between the Palestinian people and the people in the United States.

Militarization is a globalized problem, and what we need, now more than ever, is understanding, solidarity, and action. Do your research. Understand the reasoning for police militarization in the United States, and then step back to understand the globalized perspective.

As Eran Efrati, a former Israeli soldier, says in a message to the people of the United States, “you’re next!”

Now is the time for us to stand together and resist the military/police state that is being forced upon us. Spreading awareness is resistance! Get involved with local organizations, and if they aren’t already working on a plan of action – begin one!

When our children ask us what we did during times of worldwide injustice, let us not be amongst those who say, “we did nothing.”

SALAAM!

For more information, please visit:

8.24.14 – Police Militarization [Radio]  

Generation Justice asks UNM students about Ferguson, MO. [Video]