To which we can only chuckle and reply, “Ya think?” We’ve been yakking about the militarization of policing here for a while. Sending SWATties out to serve what used to be run-of-the-mill search warrants, up-gunning cruisers with army-issue M4s, adding tactical operators to agencies like the Department of Education. Nothing new to anyone who’s been paying attention. Only now some of those 5.11-wearing, Kevlar-protected, modern sporting rifle-carrying officers are using their tactics against some avowed Prius drivers who sport authentic COEXIST bumper stickers. Which means it’s now worthy of note to the New York Times…
RIOT police officers tear-gassing protesters at the Occupy movement in Oakland. The surprising nighttime invasion of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, carried out with D-Day-like secrecy by officers deploying klieg lights and a military-style sound machine. And campus police officers in helmets and face shields dousing demonstrators at the University of California, Davis with pepper spray.
But…but…the OWSers are on our side! Something must be done! It would be funny if the paper of record weren’t coming to this story a decade or two late. I guess the NYT writers and editors have had their noses pressed a little too closely to their MSNBC screens to notice before now.
Yet lately images from Occupy protests streamed on the Internet — often in real time — show just how readily police officers can adopt military-style tactics and equipment, and come off more like soldiers as they face down citizens. Some say this adds up to the emergence of a new, more militaristic breed of civilian police officer. Others disagree.
They do a decent job presenting both sides (for once); libertarians documenting the increase in SWAT deployments and cops saying they’re undergunned and have to match the strength of their potential opposition.
But the news here isn’t the militarization, it’s the Times itself. As soon as a decades-old trend starts to affect those with whom the Times’ editors are simpatico, it’s time to shine a light on the issue. It wasn’t a big problem when the cops were knocking down doors and shooting pets in front of children. Never mind that a wacko libertarian think tank had documented all of this years ago.
When the coppers roll out their armored personnel carriers to clear out the kids demonstrating against Wall Street, capitalism and student loans, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle o’ fish. These are the good people. The ones we agree with. This kind of police brutality has to be exposed, discussed, dealt with. Therefore, now it’s time the NYT’s dwindling readership is made aware of the situation.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why their circulation continues to go south. If you confined yourself to reading the Gray Lady, you’d be under the impression that we were being governed by a corrupt, unpopular administration that’s running guns to foreign countries without the approval of Congress. Oh. Wait.