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Rand Paul, Others: Demilitarize the Police

in Criminal Justice, Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“We Must Demilitarize the Police” is the title of a bold article by Sen. Cartoon Militarized Police OfficerRand Paul at TIME.com.

Written as the troubles in riot-torn Ferguson, Missouri were escalating, Paul says:

“The outrage in Ferguson is understandable — though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

“The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action. …

“There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement. Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.

“This is usually done in the name of fighting the War on Drugs or terrorism. …

“When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury — national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture — we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

“Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.”

Paul quoted others who share these concerns:

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit): “Soldiers and police are supposed to be different. … But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences. And those who suffer the consequences are usually innocent civilians.”

Walter Olson (Cato Institute): “Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? … Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that ‘We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone’?”

Evan Bernick (Heritage Foundation): “The Department of Homeland Security has handed out anti-terrorism grants to cities and towns across the country, enabling them to buy armored vehicles, guns, armor, aircraft, and other equipment. … federal agencies of all stripes, as well as local police departments in towns with populations less than 14,000, come equipped with SWAT teams and heavy artillery. …

“Bossier Parish, Louisiana, has a .50 caliber gun mounted on an armored vehicle. The Pentagon gives away millions of pieces of military equipment to police departments across the country — tanks included.”

Concludes Sen. Paul: “The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. … Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.”

For more libertarian critiques on Ferguson, see “Where Are the Libertarians on Ferguson? Here, LMGTFY,” by Elizabeth Nolan Brown, The Dish, Aug. 14, 2014.

Radley Balko, a libertarian journalist who writes for the Washington Post, has a great recent book on the dangers of U.S. police militarization, Rise of the Warrior Cop. You can read a lengthy excerpt from it here.

THEY SAID IT…

in Liberator Online Archives by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

IN OPPOSITION: “I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the Senator Rand Paulpresident has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat. I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court. …Are we comfortable killing American citizens, no matter how awful or heinous the crime they’re accused of, are we comfortable killing them based on accusations that no jury has reviewed?” — Sen. Rand Paul on the Senate floor May 21, 2014, explaining his objections to nominating David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

DR. OZ JUMPS ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA BANDWAGON:

Dr. Mehmet Oz

“I grew up like most of my generation believing that marijuana was something Satan was throwing at Americans, a communist plot. But I think most of us have come around to the believe that marijuana is hugely beneficial when used correctly for medicinal purposes.” — TV megastar Dr. Mehmet Oz on “Larry King Live,” May 14, 2014. Oz is hardly alone. Earlier this year a CBS News poll found a whopping 86 percent of Americans think doctors should be able to legally prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from serious illnesses. Numerous other polls indicate a majority of Americans favor re-legalization for recreational use as well.

LEGAL POT KILLS BLACK MARKETS: “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.” — Rodrigo Silla, 50, a lifelong cannabis farmer in Mexico, quoted in the Washington Post. Silla, like other Mexican pot farmers, has stopped growing marijuana because the U.S. has re-legalized marijuana or allows it for medical use in 20 states and the District of Columbia. This has gutted the market and lowered prices by 3/4s — exactly as libertarians predicted. Unfortunately, but also predictably, Mexican drug cartels are now pushing heroin harder than ever to make up for their pot losses. Hmmm… how could we stop that?

DO-IT-YOURSELF: “In 2003, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) spent $400,000 digitizing The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which was among the most widely read and influential papers in 19th century America. A decade later, the library was still raising money to finish the remaining 52 years of the Daily Eagle’s run. In the meantime, [Tom] Tryniski digitized all 115 years of the paper in about five months working alone.” — journalist Jim Epstein, “A Retiree Digitizes 27 Million Old Newspaper Pages in His Living Room (and Libraries Fight to Catch Up),” Reason blog, May 18, 2014.

GOV’T KILLING AMERICAN DREAM: “Dallas Mavericks owner Fox Business' John StosselMark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, ‘No … now there’s so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for, that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful.’ That’s tragic. … Government mostly hinders us, and then brags that it is waiting to take charge when we fail.” — award-winning libertarian journalist John Stossel, “Regulating Away the American Dream,” April 30, 2014.

GOV’T PERMISSION REQUIRED TO WORK:

Antony Davies

“At the state level, government regulation has become so lucrative for crony-capitalists that today almost 40 percent of U.S. jobs require a government license versus about 5 percent a generation ago. Louisiana requires $2,000 plus 80 hours of study to become a florist, while Utah requires hair braiders to get a beautician license that costs $18,000 and 2,000 hours of study.” — economist Antony Davies, “Consumers Are the Best Regulators,” US News & World Report online, May 12, 2014.

RE-QUOTED AND NOTED

MILTON FRIEDMAN ON FOUR WAYS TO SPEND MONEY: “There are four ways in which you can Milton Friedmanspend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.” — Milton Friedman, Fox News interview (May 2004), requoted by Mark D. Friedman in comments field of BleedingHeartsLibertarian.com article.