Militarization of police exemplified by “virtually unstoppable” APC at Occupy Tampa
By End the Lie
One of the many disturbing trends in America in the post-September 11th, 2001 era is the steady militarization of domestic police forces who are supposed to “protect and serve” not “intimidate and attack” the people of the United States.
A glaring example of this steady march toward de-facto martial law in which police are so militarized there is little to no difference between them and the military itself occurred at Occupy Tampa recently.
It is essentially a way for the government to bypass the Posse Comitatus act and 1878 by simply militarizing the police to the point where they are indistinguishable from the actual armed forces, effectively eliminating the need to even declare martial law.
For reasons which remain unclear, the Tampa Police Department in Tampa, Florida’s Tactical Response Team, or TRP, rolled out what some have been calling a “tank” to Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.
As it turns out, the menacing vehicle isn’t technically a tank; instead it is an “Amphibious Rescue Vehicle” which is designed for transporting personnel in extreme conditions.
The heavily armored vehicle had “Rescue 2” emblazoned on the side, and according to an individual going by the name Tom Servo (which is likely a nom de plume referring to a character from Mystery Science Theater 3000) writing for Yahoo’s so-called “contributor network” it is nicknamed “High-Top Shoe.”
This nickname is likely due to the odd shape of the vehicle which crudely resembles a high-top shoe if one stretches one’s imagination a bit, and Tampa city says it is for the “tall silhouette look.”
The Rescue 2 is a massive “12-ton Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)” according to the official city of Tampa website, but the question remains, why on Earth does a domestic police force need a 12-ton APC at a small-scale peaceful protest?
The behemoth vehicle is bullet resistant and “virtually unstoppable,” can drive through five feet of water, handle winds up to 130 miles per hour, carry 13 passengers, and reach 60 miles per hour.
The Rescue 2 is billed to be used for “search and rescue during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.”
Yet, there was neither a terrorist attack nor a natural disaster justifying the deployment of the Rescue 2, instead it was done in a clear attempt to intimidate the protesters.
This wholly unnecessary item is a “one of a kind APC” which “was purchased from the military and it was paid for with a Federal security grant,” according to the City of Tampa website.
I find it quite unsettling that our tax dollars are being spent to outfit domestic police forces with such ridiculously superfluous military vehicle.
Yet this isn’t the only absurd purchase made by the City of Tampa, indeed there is a Rescue 1 which is described as “a amphibious (sic) type vehicle that … is designed to float ad the knobs on the tires propel it in the water.”
It carries up to 13 passengers, is bullet proof, and also is equipped with “a raised platform that has a rotatable 360 degree platform” which is likely used to mount weapons.
Before the Tampa Police Department had Rescue 1, it was used by the U.S. Marine Corps in Desert Storm, perfectly exemplifying the fact that our domestic police departments are turning into a military force.
The author of the Yahoo article speculated that the Tampa police might have been expecting a riot and “wanted to have the vehicle present in case people needed to be safely transported away from the scene,” although I think this is giving the police the benefit of the doubt when it is not necessarily justified.
However, he posits a much more likely possibility in saying that, “Another likely reason may be that the police simply wanted to psychologically intimidate protestors,” but then nullifies what would be an insightful comment by saying that it would be, “to deter the possibility of things getting out of hand.”
As we have seen time and time again, it is only the police who get out of hand by attacking peaceful protesters for absolutely no reason whatsoever after being provoked in no way, shape or form.
While I agree with the author that drawing the parallel between the presence of the tank and Tiananmen Square in China is a bit over-the-top, the steady march of police towards total militarization is not something to be minimized.
This is far from an isolated instance of one police department spending tax payer dollars on something that they will likely never use for its intended purpose, indeed it represents just one instance of police across the nation buying tanks and other military vehicles to carry out ordinary activities.
These are deployed for one reason and one reason only: to strike fear into the hearts of peaceful protesters attempting to express the fact that they are fed up with the police who protect the corporations and not the people whom they are sworn to serve.
The author of the Yahoo article uses the ridiculous deployment of the APC to denigrate the protests saying calling it a “lackluster and uneventful protest” and saying that he was “really surprised that so many of the protesters are making such silly conjectures, implying that the tank might be used violently against the protestors, or that the TPD are so afraid of them they need to hide behind a tank.”
He continues to underhandedly insult the Occupy protesters by saying, “Apparently, a large number of the Occupy Tampa’s supporters can’t be bothered to do a little research when they see something they don’t understand.”
The demonstrators understand exactly what is going on, which seems to be flying right over this author’s head: the incremental move toward a total militarization of the police and de-facto marital law is nothing short of dangerous and the threat is not only real just over the horizon if police keep heading in this direction.