“A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo reported that in the Obama era, ‘police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.’ The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what look like invading forces from an army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year…
‘It’s a legal fiction spun up hundreds of years ago to give the state the power to convict a person’s property of a crime, or at least, implicate its involvement in the committing of a crime. When that happened, the property was to be legally seized by the state,’ wrote Cantu. He went on to explain that law enforcement justifies the seizing of property and cash as a way to break up narcotics rings’ infrastructure. But it can also be used in cases where a person is not convicted, or even charged with, a crime.
A 2006 policy paper by investigative journalist Radley Balko, who has done the most reporting on militarized policing, highlighted the negative impact using informants for these raids have. Most often, informants are ‘people who regularly seek out drug users and dealers and tip off the police in exchange for cash rewards” and other drug dealers, who inform to gain leniency or cash from the police. But these informants are quite unreliable–and the wrong information can lead to tragic consequences.
[A Racial Issue?]
Militarized policing has also targeted communities of color. According to the ACLU report, ‘of all incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.’ The majority of raids that targeted blacks and Latinos were related to drugs–another metric exposing how the “war on drugs” is racist to the core.”