Former Seattle Police Chief: Ferguson Military Gear An ‘Act of Provocation’
“We have police taking a military response… and making matters much worse”
August 14, 2014
A former Seattle police chief is calling the Ferguson Police Department’s use of military equipment against protesters an “act of provocation.”
“If they’re out there in military gear from the beginning that’s an act of provocation,” Stamper said. “We just simply need to use defusing techniques.”
Stamper said that his heavy handed response to the WTO riots in Seattle was a major mistake, one he sees Ferguson police currently repeating.
“What happened in Seattle in 1999 was a police overreaction, which I presided over. It was the worst mistake of my career,” Stamper said. “We used chemical agents, a euphemism for tear gas, against nonviolent and essentially nonthreatening protesters.”
“The natural consequence of which are that we were the catalyst for heightened tension and conflict rather than peacekeepers, or for that matter even peacemakers. It’s a lesson, unfortunately, that American law enforcement in general has not learned.”
The Ferguson Police Department’s military hardware, which includes LRAD sound weapons, armored military vehicles, rubber bullets and tear gas, is the direct result of police militarization in the wake of 9/11 Stamper said.
“Most times you have the luxury of time, but I fear that what’s happened over the course of the last 10, 15 years, certainly with the advent of the drug war 40-plus years ago, and then in the aftermath of September 11, we have the police taking, increasingly, a military response to a wide variety of situations, and making matters much worse in the process,” Stamper said.
Stamper went on to specifically point out one overlooked weapon in the arsenal of Ferguson police that he says is being used purely for intimidation: attack dogs.
“There’s a real place for dogs in police work, but it is not in the context of a nonviolent protest,” Ferguson said. “In fact, using dogs for crowd control is operationally, substantively, and from an image point-of-view just about the worst thing you can do.”
“We should have learned that lesson as an institution back in the 60s in this country. When [Birmingham, Alabama, public safety commissioner] Bull Conner unleashed his police dogs on nonviolent civil rights demonstrators, he was essentially saying to those peacefully protesting Americans, ‘You are the enemy.’”
While an extremely small minority have been seen engaging in behavior such as throwing bottles, the vast majority of protesters have remained completely peaceful following Sunday’s initial breakdown.
While at its time the WTO riots were seen as a major attack against the First Amendment, Ferguson police have set a disturbing precedent by attacking and censoring journalists.
Incredibly, a voice recording sent over a police loudspeaker ordered journalists to turn off their video before police began firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
Shocking video also revealed how police dismantled a news team’s video equipment after firing tear gas at their feet.
Infowars’ reporter Joe Biggs was shot in the kidneys with a rubber bullet as fellow reporter Jakari Jackson dodged tear gas canisters fired directly at him.
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