Welcome to Salinas, California. It’s a community of only 150,000 people and the owner of the military assault vehicle seen here. That’s right, a city of less than a quarter million owns a rolling death machine complete with a machine gun turret on top. Now what the hell would they need that for?
If you find yourself asking that question, you are not alone. More and more people are waking up to police state America and the non-stop assault on our civil liberties. The revelations last year that the NSA has been spying on US citizens and monitoring your phone and Internet habits was alarming, but stories about police abuse of the citizens spreads far and wide.
Take, for instance, the story out of New Jersey this week of a man who would have been sentenced to five years in prison for evading arrest and assaulting a police officer were it not for dash cam footage the police tried to hide. Despite the fact that the officers in question have now been indicted, an internal affairs review of the found no evidence of wrongdoing. Maybe we should let those officers drive the tank?
Last month in Chicago it was revealed that three people were forced to undergo illegal strip searches in view of the public.
A federal lawsuit accuses eight Chicago police officers of planting evidence and illegally strip-searching three city residents in open air, with one plaintiff claiming she was forced to remove a tampon in front of male officers.
Caprice Halley, Tevin Ford and the estate of Willie Douglas filed a civil rights complaint against the officers and the City of Chicago on Wednesday, saying the officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights against warrantless searches. A video of the incident, shot by a neighbor and broadcast on local media this week, prompted the lawsuit.
In a video recorded by a neighbor, you can overhear the woman behind the camera asking why they would be conducting a strip search in public.
Police along the southern border are routinely exceeding their Constitutional authority with lawsuits being filed against New Mexico police frequently. A woman picking up her car from a police impound was even ordered to submit to a cavity search.
Now I suppose it is easy enough to dismiss these as isolated incidents, but they are piling up fast. They also raise a bigger question when tied to the purchase of military hardware.
The Stanford Prisoner Experiment in 1971 clearly indicated that normal people will abuse positions of power over time. In a very short time the subjects of that experiment began to show the same sadistic behavior that causes a police officer to violate a woman in an alley under the guise of a reasonable search.
What happens when people with that mindset are given enough firepower to put down large crowds? You don’t have to look further than the Arab Spring or Ukraine for an answer to that question.
Scenes like the classic image of one man staring down a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square are unlikely to happen if protestors were to hold their own in front of an assault vehicle with a machine gun nest operated by the kind of officers that would strip you naked in front of your neighbors and molest you in an alley.
Unless the people wake up to the extent of the problem with militarization of our police, don’t be surprised when the next massacre of peaceful protestors happens in your town.