Across the country, Americans who protested racial injustice and police brutality – the vast majority of them peaceful – were hit by police forces who looked more like an army.
Officers have appeared for protests with combat equipment, armored trucks and military rifles. And that's not new: the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 saw the police react similarly militarized.
Where does the police get all these weapons from?
As part of the war on drugs, the United States has taken action over several decades to bring law enforcement and the military closer together. The most effective one that started in 1990 is today's 1033 program – it allowed the military to lend their excess equipment to law enforcement agencies. By the mid-1990s, local police departments in the United States, including the university police, had purchased equipment such as armored trucks, automatic rifles, and grenade launchers.
Today, this equipment is standard in American police departments. However, what has changed since the 1990s is that the 1033 program no longer drives militarization of the police. Today, the culture of militarization is embedded in the self-image of the country's police.
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