Chief Tango sends us a link from USAToday entitled “Pentagon fueled Ferguson confrontation” an opinion piece by David Mastio and Kelsey Rupp. It’s subtitled “Department of Defense provided surplus military vehicles to local PD” the gist of the article is that the police in Ferguson have been armed by the Pentagon for their confrontation with looters and rioters there.
Michelle McCaskill, media relations chief at the Defense Logistics Agency, confirms that the Ferguson Police Department is part of a federal program called 1033 that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus military equipment to civilian police forces across the United States. The materials range from small items, such as pistols and automatic rifles, to heavy armored vehicles such as the MRAPs used in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“In 2013 alone, $449,309,003.71 worth of property was transferred to law enforcement,” the agency’s website states.
According to McCaskill, the most recent transfer of military equipment from the Department of Defense to small Ferguson was in November and included two vehicles as well as a trailer and a generator. Details on the vehicles and their intended uses have not been released by the Pentagon. Information on any prior transfers is also unavailable.
So, it sounds like the police are waging a war on rioters, doesn’t it? You’d expect photos of tanks rolling through the streets crushing dissent. Well, this vacuous piece of journalism, if you bother to read the whole thing, says;
There is no evidence that any such equipment has yet been used in the Brown case and its aftermath. But such “police militarization” is just one element of an often toxic relationship between minority communities and local police.
The whole story revolves around the fact that police department HAS the equipment, not that they’re USING the equipment. Now, I’m one of the first to question why the civil police need this equipment – it’s needless expenditures purchased only for county fair displays and so the police can appear “tacti-cool”. But it’s irresponsible of journalists to write these kinds of articles which are clearly written for low-information readers who wave the article like a bloody shirt in social media and fan the flames of the civil war in Ferguson.
It’s the media that is “fueling the confrontation” in this case, not the Pentagon.