President Obama touts Camden as a model of police demilitarization. But the city has taken counterinsurgency surveillance to a new level.
President Obama’s “ban” on certain military hardware and gear is both fraudulent and a diversion from the real issue: the oppressive mission of the police in Black America. The cops who killed Michael Brown and Freddie Gray and countless others weren’t wearing battlefield outfits, firing automatic rifles, or riding around in tanks. They murder quite efficiently with handguns, batons and their hands and feet, as cops always have done.
Militarized policing was designed to destroy the dignity of those who contest power. Riot control is — and always has been — about criminalizing acts of disobedience by controlling people, public space and even the air we breathe. The disturbing forms of policing we see in Baltimore provide a small window into a sprawling, transnational business with roots in colonialist violence.