More grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles and high-powered firearms will all be available to state and local U.S. police departments, President-elect Donald Trump has promised.
He wants to reverse a 2015 executive order from the Obama administration that restricted access to those military-style weapons. Obama had passed the law due to the massive outcry over the police brutality – employing armored vehicles and other military-grade weapons – that surfaced after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Of course, this has garnered the support of police organizations around the country. Fraternal Order of Police Executive Director James Pasco has even quipped that the organization, which boasts over 325,000 sworn police officers as members in 2,100 local chapters, will “take him at his word.”
If Trump’s team has their way, police would again be permitted to receive everything from grenade launchers to armored vehicles, all of which were previously provided through the military’s 1033 program. The use of these militarized weapons to repress the massive unrest in the wake of Brown’s murder led Obama to his decision.
WATCH: USA: One Year After Ferguson Rebellion Police Violence Unabated
“Since then, the Defense Logistics Agency has recalled 138 grenade launchers, more than 1,600 bayonets and 126 tracked vehicles,” CBS News reported.
Authorities have nevertheless continued receiving the gear, with at least 183 law enforcement agencies requesting and receiving armored vehicles this year.
Obama’s order was mostly symbolic, as there was little demand for the items anyway, according to a professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies who has studied the militarization of police. Nevertheless, he added, there is no justification for their use.
“It just ramps up the probability that this kind of kind of high-end military hardware is going to be misapplied,” said professor Peter Kraska.
Though Obama’s order has not proven very effective, evidenced most recently by the militarized response against anti-pipeline demonstrators in North Dakota, rescinding the order would signal a re-commitment to a militarized police culture.
“Rather than attempting to curb militarism,” said Raed Jarrar, government relations manager for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group committed to peace and social justice, “the president-elect is planning to continue on that path.”