police-militarized1

I’ll never forget watching the manhunt for one teenager after the Boston bombing while militarized storm trooper police raided neighborhoods and dragged people (some of them nearly naked) from their homes with their hands over their heads without warrants. The idea that our police drive armored tanks down suburban streets with gun turrets carrying weapons that not even Saddam Hussein owned made me far more terrified than the idea of a lone bomber on the loose. Watching my fellow Americans be ripped out of their homes without cause and forced to run down the street without looking back while police invaded their lives and privacy was chilling. This was all in the name of safety. I remember at the time I thought, “Oh, the lawsuits are going to be expensive!” but I don’t think anyone sued, or if they did, no one cared enough to report it. It was the definition of illegal search and seizure on television! But instead of outrage, the television was covered in people so thankful to the police for their heroic actions in finding one wounded teen hiding in a boat. (Who, by the way, was actually found by a guy who looked into his backyard and noticed something odd. The tanks and the hysterics didn’t contribute one iota to finding the bomber. Just an alert citizen.)

Since then, I’ve noticed more stories about the militarization of local police and harassment of citizens happening at an alarming rate across this country. Salinas, California just got an armored police vehicle which is disturbing its residents. They don’t understand why their police need such a thing in such a little town. Places like Boulder, Colorado and Preston, Idaho also received these vehicles, disturbing their inhabitants too. Stories of police acting above the law, searching without warrants and abusing their power are on the rise also. There are videos all over YouTube of concealed weapons permit holders being forced to the ground and threatened with a bullet to the head over a legally carried weapon by officers too caught up in their own power to abide by the law. It’s a frightening time to be a private citizen. The government power has reached epic levels and the bloat is infecting even small municipalities and villages.

If you don’t think it could happen to you, let me give you a personal example of what’s been happening to me for the last three months as I contend with a local police force that’s been used as a harassment tool by local elected officials on the library board, of all things.