Congressman Hank Johnson Will Introduce Bill To Stop The Militarization Of Police

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Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg

Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia Will Introduce Bill to Stop the Militarization of Police

As I pointed out yesterday in my detailed thoughts on Ferguson, President Obama has once again proved his irrelevance and uselessness by failing to say anything meaningful on the disturbing events of the past week. In fact, he only decided to address it personally and publicly yesterday after being heavily criticized for issuing a press release about the party he attended in Martha’s Vineyard as civilians in Missouri clashed with a paramilitary police force.

Despite Obama’s complete apathy, there are some Congressmen forcefully speaking out against the trend from “both sides” of the increasingly meaningless Republican and Democrat divide. The most noteworthy thus far appears to be Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia’s 4th Congressional district. In fact, he has sent a Dear Colleague letter to fellow representatives of his intention to introduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in September when Congress returns from recess.

The Hill reports that:

A Democratic congressman from Georgia is drafting legislation to limit a Pentagon program that provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.

 

Rep. Hank Johnson is pushing the legislation amid the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where an armed police presence has taken to the streets after mass protests over a police shooting.

 

Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s,” Johnson wrote in a Dear Colleague letter sent Thursday to other members of Congress.

 

“As the tragedy in Missouri unfolds, one thing is clear. Our local police are becoming militarized,” Johnson’s office said in a statement.

 

Johnson said he will introduce the bill in September, when Congress returns from a five-week recess. He has been worked on the legislation for months, but his office said the current situation highlights the need for the bill.

 

Johnson criticized the Pentagon’s ’1033? program, which offers surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement, including M16 rifles and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP).

Considering that most mainstream media watching Americans had no idea how out of control the police militarization had become, perhaps Rep. Johnson’s bill has a fighting chance. If it is to pass, bi-partisan support is crucial and this is hopefully one of those issues libertarians and progressives can find common ground on. There is reason to be somewhat optimistic considering Rand Paul’s op-ed in Time yesterday titled: We Must Demilitarize the Police. Here are some excerpts:

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

 

The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.

 

The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.

 

When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.

 

The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.

 

Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.

However, passing such a bill will be no easy task. For example, in June Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced an amendment to H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have prohibited funds from being used to transfer certain kinds of military surplus to local police departments. Sadly, the vote wasn’t even close. It failed 62-355, including a no vote from Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson. Reason reported on this tragedy:

In June, the House of Representatives voted on a series of amendments to H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act.  Among the amendments was one by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) which would’ve prohibited funds from being used to transfer certain kinds of military surplus to local police departments. The amendment failed by a wide margin, with only 62 votes for and 355 against.

 

Among those voting against this bill, which would slow down the militarization of America’s police forces, was Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), whose district includes Ferguson, Missouri, where many Americans have gotten their first glimpse of America’s militarized police in action.

 

House leadership on both sides also voted against it, including Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Establishment bipartisan criminality, as usual.

Supporters of the amendment include the usual civil libertarian suspects, such as Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who called attention to this vote on Twitter earlier today, John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Walter Jones (R-NC), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), John Lewis (D-Ga.), who nevertheless called for martial law in Ferguson, Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Mark Sanford (R-SC). Fourteen other Republicans and 43 other Democrats voted for the amendment.

 

See how your representative voted here.

Optimism for Rep. Johnson’s bill should come from the fact the issue has been thrust front and center due to recent events in Ferguson. That said, like anything else in American politics, actually passing legislation in the best interests of the American public is almost impossible due to the overwhelming influence of special interest money. Indeed, David Sirota noted earlier today that:

According to data compiled by Maplight, the lawmakers “voting to continue funding the 1033 Program have received, on average, 73 percent more money from the defense industry than representatives voting to defund it.” In all, the average lawmaker voting against the bill received more than $50,000 in campaign donations from the defense industry in the last two years. The report also found that of the 59 lawmakers who received more than $100,000  from defense contractors in the last two years, only four voted for Grayson’s legislation.

Given the reality of defense company spending, this battle will not be an easy one. This is why I ask you to spread this post around and contract your Senators and Representatives to make it clear this issue is very important to you and you will be watching how they vote.

 

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Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:10 | 5103414 Yes We Can. But...
Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Stop?
Reverse.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:15 | 5103424 Publicus
Publicus's picture

Ebola will solve all our problems.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:17 | 5103426 eclectic syncretist
eclectic syncretist's picture

"You didn't loot that"

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:33 | 5103465 kliguy38
kliguy38's picture

LMFAO... judging by the emotions of the sheep on these threads ...I fully expect a cry for tanks on every street of AmeriKa by end of next week..........save us from those hoodlum thugs Uncle Sam.....call in the Marines....too fkn funny

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:47 | 5103486 NOZZLE
NOZZLE's picture

I'll worry about my own safety but what are you planning on using to keep those gentle giants under control?

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:00 | 5103522 kliguy38
kliguy38's picture

I'm here from the guberment and I'm here to protect you........hehehehehhehe

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 22:39 | 5103722 espirit
espirit's picture

CONgressman Johnson needs to stay away from passenger aircraft, Mercedes, hot tubs, sheer ledges, nailguns, and Albanian Midgets.

...or else.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 23:36 | 5103892 G-R-U-N-T
G-R-U-N-T's picture

"In fact, he has sent a Dear Colleague letter to fellow representatives of his intention to introduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in September when Congress returns from recess."

Nice gesture but deceptive acting as if he really gives a shit.  This bill will be of no consequence, since the police are already loaded to the gills with every high tech weaponry one can think of!

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 03:22 | 5104355 Elvis the Pelvis
Elvis the Pelvis's picture

You might be surprised.  Even the hacks at Fox News were genuinely shocked when they saw snipers in camo targeting civilians.  Something good is going to come from this tragedy.  Bitchez.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 06:29 | 5104480 0z
0z's picture

We might see another great big battle at Kenessaw Mountain. Another Civil War in the works; we are witnessing side-taking in real-time. Usually, that means we aren't far off.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 08:29 | 5104620 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

"Side taking in real time."  Interesting observation, and +1.  The middle class has largely chosen sides already.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 07:00 | 5104502 StormShadow
StormShadow's picture

Oh please...Hank is an idiot. As a Georgian myself it embarrasses me people like Hank and Cynthia McKinney get elected to anything higher than Dog Catcher. I mean Jesus, this is the same guy that thought if too many military personnel are on Guam it would tip into the ocean.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v7XXVLKWd3Q

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 11:40 | 5104981 Abaco
Abaco's picture

Well yes he is an idiot and a political whore like most of the rest of them. However, that doesn't mean he couldn't stumble onto legislation worth supporting.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 20:25 | 5106608 StormShadow
StormShadow's picture

What you are missing, my dear Abaco, is that the powers that be suggested this legislation to Hank, not someone else, for a reason. If the legislation ever had a chance (it didn't), they knew if someone as amoeba-brained as Hank Johnson sponsored it no one of any real clout would want to be associated with him as it had to be a bad idea if this moron brought it up. This is how they ensure it goes nowhere.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 23:34 | 5103887 TeethVillage88s
TeethVillage88s's picture

Larry Kudlow on the Radio now:

A) He is against Individual Savings
B) He is against higher Compensation
C) He is against higher employment, or government education, or low cost education, or partnership with industry, or creating environments for worker hiring, or for government education of itself on the skills levels of US Work Force
D) He is against high interest rates to aid fixed income people, he is Fascist

Thanks Larry Kudlow: 90 Million unemployed is on your head

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 00:59 | 5104109 Iwanttoknow
Iwanttoknow's picture

TV88s,

I concur.he is a toothlesds,unprincipled kazar,luciferian monster.Fuck him and his ilk i.e Kramer.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 17:41 | 5106184 giggler321
giggler321's picture

kliguy38 - shouldn't u post a Bitcoin push anytime about now?

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:30 | 5103573 klockwerks
klockwerks's picture

Are you sure your on the same website? I haven't seen anyone asking for that.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 01:06 | 5104129 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Some people here definitely want tanks on certain streets in DC but not for crowd control.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 10:22 | 5104800 General Decline
General Decline's picture

...for crowd support

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:48 | 5103611 Par Contre
Par Contre's picture

Why does the US military have so much surplus equipment? If they don't need it, then why did they buy it in the first place? This stinks to high heaven.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:59 | 5103640 spinone
spinone's picture

Now you're starting to ask the right questions.  If the military is downsizing, who will the weapons manufacturers sell to?  The police, thats who.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 07:10 | 5104513 StormShadow
StormShadow's picture

The military is not downsizing. The MIC wants to sell them newer equipment so they can all buy that 5th vacation home and continue to generate cash for buying off politicians, so they're selling off the 3-4 year old stuff that still works just fine to make way for the new toys. No doubt they sell the cops some new stuff, too, but that's primarily how it works.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 22:01 | 5103641 bulldung
bulldung's picture

I am totally committed to the concept that freedom is more important than security and I am committed to the right to bear arms. The problem law enforcement has is the loss of civility and the markedly increased firepower of the criminal element.To subdue such weapory in criminals requires similar weapons, unfortunately. I am sure the level of fear , cynicism and jaded mind of police officers is far greater in urban settings. It is not all about race. The general loss of respect for life by our society since the 1970's and family deterioration are greater factors IMO. Restoring our society will require a paradigm shift that I fear will only occur after substantial bloodshed. Riegning in central government will be necessary to assuage the anger increasing in America. God have mercy on Ferguson and the USA.

 

 

 

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 01:14 | 5104147 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Dontcha think part of the whole "loss of respect for life" has something to do with how minorities are held back and then over enforced by the police? 

Here, you're black.  You are born in a shitty place and you are going to live there pretty much forever unless you have something special.  You are feared such that you are always a suspect for whatever happened even if nothing happened at all. 

Mike Brown apparently was a thug and a criminal.  If the eyewitnesses are to be believed, he was murdered.  We'll find out with the autopsy.

Obviously the po po is not up to the challenge.  They teargas protesters and ignore looters.  Sure shop owners are setting a good example and protecting their property by bearing arms (no shots fired).  Perhaps if the rest of the community were to arm themselves they could control the place and keep the criminals in check. 

Again, obvious the police are not able.  This is the point of the right to bear arms.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 01:30 | 5104190 monoloco
monoloco's picture

Complete bullshit, the statistics don't support it. Being a cop barely makes the top 10 most dangerous professions, barely edging out taxi drivers, in fact, a large majority of police killed on the job, are due to traffic accidents. It is actually more dangerous to be a sanitation worker than a cop, and 3 times more dangerous to be a farmer. I can see the necessity for SWAT teams and specialized weaponry in large urban areas, but when was the last time an MRAP was used for anything other than joy rides by the SWAT team, certainly, every podunk police department doesn't need to look like a national guard armory.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 22:12 | 5103657 MFL5591
MFL5591's picture

Same group funding the police state!  

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 07:50 | 5104571 drendebe10
drendebe10's picture

What else would anyone expect from the incompetent corrupt arrogant narcissistic illegal indonesian kenyan alien muslim sociopathic pathological liar in chief only interested in its grand imperial golf lifestyle off the backs of hard working tax paying U.S. citizen serfs and peasants.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 08:24 | 5104612 photonsoflight
photonsoflight's picture

MMMMMM, adjectives, mmmm. A few more and we would have a feast for the ear.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:12 | 5103418 markar
markar's picture

Good luck. Won't make it out of committee

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:58 | 5103467 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

Especially after the ISIS flag suddenly makes an appearance over Fergazan

EDIT: Sarc tags need a font size commensurate with the hyperbole...tho sadly one day's hyperbole can be the next day's programming...

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:14 | 5103421 onewayticket2
onewayticket2's picture

hank "i hope Guam doesnt capsize" johnson....

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:21 | 5103437 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

Noooooooooooo!!!! Please tell us it is not the same dude!

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:32 | 5103462 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

Johnson: See, if too many people are on one side of the island it might tip over.
Military Man: We don't foresee that happening, sir.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 03:23 | 5104357 ImGumbydmmt
ImGumbydmmt's picture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqyfWFYBXxI

 

the exact same dude, ...man

as in, "that rug really tied the room together, Man"

 

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 11:50 | 5105013 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Perfect wingnut to introduce legislation to limit government overreach.  He's a loon.  His ideas are crazy.  This is a nonstarter.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:42 | 5103477 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

 "That was my odd sense of humor.  Everyone knows it would take all those personnel AND at least 6 circus elephants to capsize the island and Guam doesn't have a circus.  DC however, now that's a circus!"

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:46 | 5103485 boattrash
boattrash's picture

Onewayticket2, Thanks for the reminder. Weeee're Fucked.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:18 | 5103427 toady
toady's picture

A strongly worded letter.... yeah, that'll get it done.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:18 | 5103429 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Hank Johnson 

D-GA

$448,223

Industrial Unions $31,500

Lawyers/Law Firms $30,300

Building Trade Unions $30,050

Transportation Unions $23,000

Insurance $21,750

Public Sector Unions $21,000

TV/Movies/Music $19,000

Food & Beverage $17,500

Beer, Wine & Liquor $17,000

Commercial Banks $15,500

by Greenhouse | data OpenSecrets.org

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:19 | 5103430 gbresnahan
gbresnahan's picture

This doesn't go far enough. Take away their guns entirely. If we can save the life of even one person then it's worth it. I'm sick and tired of reading about people being wrongly shot/killed by police.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:17 | 5103552 TungstenBars
TungstenBars's picture

Cops should be charged $500 a bullet every time they shoot. That way they'll only shoot if their life really is in danger. 

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:37 | 5103585 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

I was thinking every convenience store clerk should get to waste one thug per month, no questions asked.

Over time, it would really settle things down.

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 07:14 | 5104518 StormShadow
StormShadow's picture

Screw that! Why should one man get all the fun? Let's bring back the guillotine to every town square so we can all enjoy it

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 08:31 | 5104622 photonsoflight
photonsoflight's picture

Hanging would be better. Takes longer. Better show.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:19 | 5103431 explosivo
explosivo's picture

There is no statist solution to the problem of statism.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:21 | 5103436 Perimetr
Perimetr's picture

Too late

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 20:22 | 5103438 European American
European American's picture

Armed (law abiding) Citizens and a Fascist Police State cannot coexist.

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 21:54 | 5103627 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Which is why the government either scales back, or there will be a fight.

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