“It is the MISSION of the police that is lethal, racist, oppressive and unacceptable to Black America; the equipment and clothing is incidental.”
President Obama took his police “reform” shell game to Camden, New Jersey, this week, announcing a ban on the sale of some types of military equipment to local police departments, and restrictions on other weapons, gear and equipment. As with all of the administration’s responses to the nine-month-old Black Lives Matter movement, it was an exercise in public relations and calculated diversion, crafted to camouflage the essential nature of the Mass Black Incarceration State — what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow.
Obama is the true Mad Man, an impresario of “impressions.” He told a crowd at a Salvation Army center in Camden, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force, as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them.” To soothe such “feelings” in Black communities, Obama claimed his executive order would halt the use of federal funds to purchase tracked armored vehicles, the highest-caliber guns and ammo, bayonets, grenade launchers and camouflage uniforms, and put controls on wheeled armor vehicles, certain kinds of explosives and flares, manned aircraft, drones, battering rams and riot gear — and, of course, require more training for police officers in the use of such ordnance and equipment. Presumably, communities that have been under siege by police for generations will now feel much better.
“An impresario of “impressions.”
The bans and restrictions are actually bogus, deliberately misleading, or redundant, as will be explained, below. But, that’s a secondary matter. Obama’s impressions-creating “feelings” offensive does not address the core demand of the Black Lives Matter movement: that police stop killing, maiming, mass imprisoning, humiliating and terrorizing Black communities — in other words, an end to the armed occupation of Black America.
Armies of occupation may yearn for tracked vehicles, high-caliber weapons and battlefield military gear, but such hardware is not essential to the occupation mission — which is precisely why Obama and many police chiefs favor a softening of the police profile. The cops who killed Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott and, literally, countless other Black men, women and children over the years, weren’t wearing battlefield outfits, firing automatic rifles, or riding around in tanks. They murder quite efficiently with handguns, batons and their hands and feet, as cops always have done.