Target: Ron Ramsey, Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee
Goal: Ban police departments from acquiring and using military gear
Tennessee state senator Brian Kelsey has introduced legislation that would bar the state’s police from using military gear in an effort to draw a “clear separation between the military and police.” In light of harsh crackdowns on protests in Ferguson, Missouri and across the country by police using this very gear, this is a vital step in the right direction. Urge the leader of the state senate, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, to do everything in his power to pass this legislation.
Through various federal programs, police departments across the country have been the recipients of surplus military gear since the 1990s. This has led to police departments becoming almost indistinguishable from their military counterparts, which was never the role or responsibility of domestic police. The consequences of these policies are, among other things, increasingly harsh crackdowns on protests, ranging from the Occupy movement to the more recent Ferguson movement fighting against police violence. Police have been employing military assault rifles, armored personnel carriers, drones, body armor, and other military matériel to control and disperse crowds of citizens.
Domestic police forces should not look like military invaders, and this legislation is a proactive first step to achieve that goal. Tennessee must prove that it can be done so that other states can follow suit. Sign the petition below to demand that the state senate pass this legislation.
Dear Lieutenant Governor Ramsey,
I am writing you today about legislation proposed by Senator Brian Kelsey that would bar your state’s police departments from using certain military gear and require that the gear they currently possess be sold or disposed of. This is a vital piece of legislation and I urge you to do everything in your power to make sure it passes.
The gradual militarization of America’s police forces that we have witnessed over the past decades should have every American concerned. With every assault rifle, tank, and grenade police receive, their mandate shifts away from what they have traditionally known to one more akin to that of the National Guard. Photographs of police in the United States responding to protests in our towns and cities should not be practically indistinguishable from photos of American military forces active in Afghanistan or Iraq, or from photos of military crackdowns on public protests in dictatorships around the world. We, as Americans, should hold ourselves to a higher standard than that.
Senator Kelsey’s proposal is a step in that direction. Though the demilitarization of police should be a nationwide goal, Tennessee is as good a place to start as any. I demand that you do everything you can to advocate on behalf of this bill to give it the best chance at becoming law that it can get.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Spc. Jillian Munyon via Wikimedia Commons