In cities across the United States, we have seen how the militarized mold of policing and the supply of armored vehicles, assault weapons and the like have resulted in police forces who no longer see their role as one of protecting and serving, but as an occupying army. These localized armies — backed by racist laws, upheld by stagnant leadership and fueled by the war machine itself — are battling it out to the death with the very civilians they swore to protect in our own streets. Confrontation with this war-ready mentality is a daily lived experience for black and brown citizens across the country, and the implications impact us all. It is incumbent to get weapons out of our streets, and take the necessary steps to change the current mentality and methods of police and civilian engagement. We must return to a state where law enforcement serves and protects the communities they are in, and we need the support of local leadership to do so.
In 2011, Mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene, Oregon championed CODEPINK’s “Bring Our War Dollars Home Resolution” at the US Conference of Mayors. Along with the fearless leadership of 20 other visionary leaders who co-sponsored the resolution, we celebrated its unanimous adoption. This resolution was the first anti-war resolution since the Vietnam War to address military spending, and called for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.