Pentagon surplus handouts stoke the militarization of US police

When US police flooded the streets around the country to confront protesters two weeks ago, for many it appeared like the army had deployed, with camouflage uniforms and combat gear, heavily armored anti-mine vehicles, and high-powered assault weapons. That’s not by accident. For years the US Defense Department has been handing its surplus equipment over for free to police departments — and the departments, large and small, have revelled in it. Critics say it has been part of the overall militarization of the police, and helped fuel mass nationwide demonstrations against police abuse and deadly tactics that began after the May 25 killing of a handcuffed African American, George Floyd, by a Minneapolis police officer. Small-town police armed for war As soon as protests began in Minneapolis, the city’s troubled police department rolled out armored vehicles appearing more suited to Middle East battlefields. Other large cities have them too, but also small towns.

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