It's .50 Caliber, but It's Not a Killing Machine. Honest.

Pop quiz time. This is a photo of:

A. A new U.S. Army Special Forces Unit

B. A mercenary group for hire

C. The Richland County, SC Sheriff’s Department’s shiny new toy

Tell me just what the fuck cops need with armored personnel carriers. Especially after their behavior in Minnesota, which we’ll be exploring in depth here within the next day or so, once the apoplexy’s managable.

This is just insane:

Radley Balko notes another community that has gone ultra-militarized (and, as he says, “Who wants to set an over under on the first time they use this thing to bust a pot dealer?”)

Police Mag (March, 2008)

The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper. “It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

“Letting the bad guys know you’re serious” is not a good answer to “What the fuck do you need with an APC?”

You only use “a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun” for one thing – killing as many people as you can. It’s not meant to keep the peace. It’s meant to destroy enemy soldiers. That’s what enormous fucking machine guns are for.

They are not for police agencies, which are ostensibly tasked with saving lives rather than spraying indiscriminate death down upon the nation’s citizenry. Although, after the last week, I’m not too sure about law enforcement’s role as the thin blue line anymore. “Jack-booted thugs” seems more accurate.

Eight years ago, I loved and trusted this nation’s peace officers. A few bad apples occasionally gave the whole barrel a bad taste, and a few agencies needed their corrupt asses kicked, but on the whole, I knew they were there to serve and protect.

Does that motherfucking tank look like a peace officer’s weapon to you?

Do the mass arrests, the torture, the brutality, the spying, and the thuggery in St. Paul remind you more of America or the Iron Curtain?

How long do you think it’ll be before America has its own Tienanmen Square? How long before a protester gets run down by some macho wanna-be Rambo in a policeman’s uniform and an APC?

But no, this is America.

We always do the world one better.

Fuck running down a single individual. There’s a gargantuan gun mounted on that baby – fire it up. Spray hot lead all over those vegans and those flower-children. Show ’em who’s boss.

This country is on an extremely dangerous trajectory. Just imagine what would have happened if one of these APCs had been present at Kent State. In Denver. In St. Paul.

The restraints of democracy and decency that used to at least somewhat protect this country from excesses of police brutality have been removed. The Constitutional protections that kept us from becoming another Myanmar, Tibet, Russia, El Salvador, a hundred others, aren’t simply being eroded – they’re being blasted away. Bush removed the torture taboo, started playing dictator, and it’s all the signal others needed to start playing right along with him. After all, if the President can do it, why not the local police department? It’s not wrong. It’s not illegal. The White House attorneys said so.

And here we see the real reason for the neocons’ hatred of communist regimes: it wasn’t moral outrage, it was jealousy. Why else leap so quickly to demolish the freedoms they pay lip service to? That kind of power over the mind and body of their citizens was something they could only dream of – before Bush started making their dream a reality.

We’re sliding into totalitarianism. It’s time to stop the slide. Don’t let the people you love vote their own freedoms away.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to Ed Brayton)

It's .50 Caliber, but It's Not a Killing Machine. Honest.

While the Media Titters over Palin, Police Torture Protesters

I’ll have much, much more on the unbelievable conduct of the police in St. Paul. I’ve been following the reports all week, and it’s fucking beyond outrageous. But this tips me right over the edge:

Here’s the news from the streets of St. Paul and the cells of the Ramsey County Jail

Jason was tased seven times on the street, while completely unresisting. We just heard from him-he’s still pulling copper out of his hip from the taser gun, has a long, deep laceration in his leg that is still untreated, was beaten up badly and has a black eye, a hurt mouth and many lacerations, but says he’s doing great. Elliot Hughes, a sweet, nineteen year old who came to our day camp, was badly beaten when the cops knocked him off his bicycle. They stepped on his chest, and he was coughing blood all night but received no medical treatment. The guards were calling him ‘Princess’ and making homophobic remarks. We heard from Jason that last night, Elliot was making noises to protest not receiving any food for more than twelve hours. Twelve officers entered his cell. Screams were heard for over five minutes. He was tasered three times, maced, and beaten, then removed and the men were told he was being taken to a restraint chair.


To put it bluntly, uniformed “law” enforcement in St. Paul and Ramsey County:

  • torture with electroshock weapons (Tasers)
  • torture with chemical weapons
  • stomp on a young man’s chest
  • cruelly (perhaps fatally) deny medical care to a victim spitting up blood (the fancy medical name is hemoptysis) from thoracic trauma
  • respond to calls for food with torture by beating, Taser, and chemical weapons: the same chemical weapons known to cause respiratory arrest and death in victims with pulmonary disease. “Spitting up blood” is a symptom of pulmonary disease so severe as to require emergency medical evaluation.
  • then tie up the victim in “restraint chairs” known to exacerbate pre-existing breathing difficulties in some victims of thoracic trauma.

You know, I’d gathered a few items of police fuckery from Denver, but never posted them because I got distracted by other matters. I figured I’d save them for a larger post on our expanding police state. But I look at the contrast between the overzealousness in Denver, and it’s like comparing children with cap guns to a rifle brigade.

You already heard from PZ how the police have been conducting unlawful raids, how they’ve been shutting down protesters on the flimsiest of evidence, and how they’ve arrested journalists. Now they’re engaging openly and shamelessly in torturing detainees.

I wonder where they could’ve gotten the idea that was at all acceptable in a polite society?

There’s just not enough profanity in the universe to express my outrage.

Much more on such matters later, when I’m less speechless. But in the meantime, if you’re inclined to phone some people and civilly yet forcefully advise that maybe it’s a little premature to bring Guantanamo tactics to the mainland for use against vegans, peaceniks, and a few window-breaking anarchists, Firedoglake’s got the contact list.

While the Media Titters over Palin, Police Torture Protesters