Police brutality and excessive force

In Georgia, a SWAT team raided a home where a suspect was thought to be. He was not there, and neither were any drugs, yet the heavily armed team staged a commando raid anyway. The raid gained international attention when a flash bang grenade was tossed into a baby’s crib and detonated, severely burning and maiming the baby. This is just one of many outrages, including a 92-year-old woman named Kathryn Johnston gunned down in her own home by police on the word of an informant.

If that outrages you, then you ought to be outraged by the obscene tactics used to arrest Roger Stone. The FBI sent its tactical response team with over a dozen agents wielding M4 rifles along with armored vehicles to arrest a 66 year old man who never posed any threat of violence to them or the general public. If you are cheering and laughing because an associate of President Trump was hauled in with such a ridiculous show of force, then you do not care about police militarization, excessive force, or police brutality.

Some Republicans, long reflexive defenders of the police, are starting to come around on aggressive police tactics, especially SWAT raids. It is unfortunate that loyalty to Donald Trump is what prompted the critical thinking, but any progress is better than no progress at all. But some Democrats, driven by Trump Derangement Syndrome, have suddenly decided that such raids are a good thing. The same people who advocated for Black Lives Matter now cheer the very same overly aggressive tactics that they condemned five minutes earlier. It is a shameful and repugnant display.

We are living in a dangerous time. We should not tolerate this kind of a “show of force” absent a legitimate threat of violence. Law enforcement needs to be restrained and ordered to use the minimum force necessary to get the job done. There is a place for SWAT, of course, but it is vastly overused. The vast majority of SWAT raids are for drug possession, often on racial minorities. While Stone has political allies and a high profile case, a poor black person does not. They are the ones who suffer most when aggressive police tactics are commonplace.

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