Police across the US have been criticised for their actions in clashes with Occupy Wall Street protesters. The man who led the police response to the Battle in Seattle protests at the 1999 WTO meeting blames the post-9/11 militarisation of American policing.
“Law enforcement across the country is pursuing the same tactics that failed so miserably in Seattle,” Norm Stamper tells BBC World Service’s Witness programme.
“There’s a lack of patience, there’s a lack of imagination and there are clear over-reactions to the challenges the police perceive. It is all so disheartening.”
In November 1999, Chief Stamper was one of the main officials charged with managing the huge numbers of demonstrators who brought the city to a standstill in protests against the launch of a new round of global trade talks…
Chief Stamper says he has learnt his lesson but that other US police forces have not. He blames what he calls the militarisation of the police in America.
In the years following 9/11, the federal government provided military equipment to police forces across the country and instilled in them a military mindset, all in the name of homeland security, the former police chief says.
I’ve pointed this out before, DHS and other agencies provide grants so local police can have military grade weapons. Why the heck does the City of Fredericksburg VA have a SWAT team? Especially when there are VA State Police teams in Culpeper (45 minutes away) and Richmond (1 hour away). Waste of taxpayer dollars and it encourages violence against peaceful protesters. They have a need to use equipment that would otherwise gather dust.