A Former Marine Explains All the Weapons of War Being Used by Police in Ferguson
[An astounding armamentum. The links within the article are very informative. *RON*]
By Lyle Jeremy Rubin, The Nation, 23 August 2014
|Tear gas filled the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, on August 19, 2014. (Photo: Mike Ludwig)|
One small way to measure the police violence against black people in Ferguson is to attend to its details. It is in that spirit that I present this simple catalog.
|Police react as they clash with protesters on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri, the night of Aug. 19, 2014. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)|
Smoke Grenade and Smoke Bomb
There's at least one line every Marine knows. It's ingrained at boot camp or Officer Candidate School and follows us to the front lines and back home again. It's a simple command and it's the second of the four weapons-safety rules. It says, "Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot." The St. Louis County Police Department apparently never received the memo. Either that or they intend to shoot. Although their tactical flashlights might be assisting them in spying on (and blinding) their targets, I suspect their air-purifying respirators and the smoke and CS gas they've released might be getting in the way of said objective. It's unclear whether it was cheap fuse-operated smoke bombs (think fireworks) or more expensive pin-operated smoke grenades that are responsible for the fog. Both tools have beenreported onsite. For what it's worth, such smokescreens are usually executed during flanking attacks, retreats, close air support missions or casualty evacuations. All of these situations are presumed to take place under real or potential conditions of heavy enemy fire. Make of this what you will. My guess is that they've got a surplus of toys to play with, and a powerless demographic to experiment on.
|Diagram of the M84 stun grenade. (Photo: US Army)|
|ARWEN 37 6-shot grenade launcher in the center. (Photo: US Army)|
Triple Chaser CS
|Tear gas canister that has just exploded and bounced off the ground. (Photo: Athens Indymedia)|
Pepper Spray Projectile
These "pepper balls" are lethal; the Boston Police Department banned them after ayoung woman was killed by one. It passed right through the eye and skull to the brain. She was guilty of being present in a rowdy crowd after a Red Sox v. Yankees game in which the former won. The ACLU condemned the use of such projectiles for the purposes of crowd management back in 1997, following an unfortunate incident in Eugene, Oregon. They even convinced Eugene officials to do the same. It's about time St. Louis County and the rest of the country followed suit.
You can find pictures elsewhere of the kinds of welts these things leave. The key takeaway is that, like so many of the other "safe" items on this list, they disable and kill. It appears the preferred method of discharge in Ferguson is by way of the 60-cal Stinger, which contains approximately 42- or 27 32-caliber rubber balls per casing.
Wooden Bullet Projectile
Again, the wounds are nasty. All these injuries remind me of the after-affects ofSimunition training for Marine officers at The Basic School, except worse. Like the stun grenade, employing wooden pellets as a form of riot control was spearheaded by the British decades ago, mainly in Hong Kong. As the ACLU makes clear, considerable litigation has proceeded in the aftermath of such tactics, including suits brought by protesters in Oakland who bore the brunt of these measures around the beginning of the Iraq War. Longshoremen on their way to work also suffered and sued accordingly. As a result, the Oakland police department caved and beating residents with wooden projectiles as a means of crowd management was rendered illegal.
Bean Bag Projectile
|Two views of intact bean bag shotgun round, with a view of exposed bean bag round projectile in the center. (Photo: Techjess)|
|Police Lenco Bearcat CBRNE Armored Rescue Vehicle. (Photo: S.D. Lewis)|
Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)
The LRAD is a sonic weapon that my psychological operations (PSYOP) friends could probably discuss more intelligently. All I can tell you is that the sound is so pain-inducing that in addition to being used to keep pirates at bay and break up groups of protesters or black people, it is wielded in order to regulate the movements of wildlife. Here's how it looks and sounds when targeting human beings.
MD Helicopter 500 Series
|MD Helicopters, also called Hughes 369E. (Photo: Adrian Pingstone)|
Whenever the St. Louis County or Ferguson Police aren't protecting the public via tear gas, impact munitions or sonic pain, they have been conducting civic outreach by way of growling German shepherds. As a good many military veterans are now lamenting, if cops are going to steal our gadgetry, they might consider adopting our overarching strategy too. Say what you like about Counterinsurgency Doctrine (COIN)—and I've said quite a few not-so-nice things about it in the past—but what is taking place in the above photograph spits in the face of everything COIN represents. The point, remember, is to win the hearts and minds of the people, not infuse them with helplessness and rage.
Lord knows we keep failing at this mission overseas. What's so shocking is that we seem to have abandoned its most decent ideals altogether here at home. As Balko has shown, "community policing grants" have been used to fund more SWAT teams. Any commitments to empathy held by cops has given way to an "Oakleys and crew cuts" bravado that hides behind gargantuan slabs of metal and increasingly deadly ordnance. Most of all, Martin Luther King's dream is dying a slow death. One officer of the law feels comfortable shouting to the black citizens he is sworn to protect, their iPhone cameras in hand, "Bring it, you fucking animals! Bring it!" This only echoes another quote in Rise of the Warrior Cop, where a SWAT member boasts, "When the soldiers ride in, you should see those blacks scatter."
The arsenal on display in Ferguson is not the arsenal of riot control. In a town whose population is 67 percent black while its police force is 94 percent white, we are dealing with something more insidious, both locally and as a nation. We are dealing with an arsenal of racial oppression. It's time we look it in the face, in all its awful detail. It's time we call it by its name. And it's time we finally do what we were tasked to do over a half century ago. It's time we challenge, transcend and extinguish it.