Target: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
Goal: Reject creation of oppressive hyper-militarized police force.
A plan to create a hyper-militarized police force in New York that will carry long rifles and machine guns has been proposed by the NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. The proposal includes training 350 officers in high-tech weaponry and extra protective gear given to them by Homeland Security as an anti-terrorist response group.
This is the exact kind of thing that anti-brutality activists and human rights advocates have been petitioning against. Giving city police officers extremely deadly weapons and dressing them like military soldiers creates a sense of intimidation and mistrust between the cops and the general public. They’re effectively turning the NYPD into an extension of the military that treats the people they’re supposed to protect like the enemy.
The worst part is that Bratton is comparing non-violent protests to terrorist attacks in his justification of this plan, saying it’s “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.” If a group of cops are going to be trained to deal with terrorists and then deployed to “deal with” protesters, they’re very likely to treat law-abiding citizens practicing their right to peaceful demonstration like enemy combatants.
Using highly armed and intimidating police forces that treat protesters like terrorists tends to result in deep mistrust between police and citizens as well as violent escalation during entirely non-violent protests. Urge the New York City mayor to denounce and reject this dangerous plan.
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I understand that the NYPD commissioner has put forth a plan to train 350 police officers in anti-terrorist tactics and the use of heavy weaponry and military-grade technology such as machine guns, long rifles and extra protective gear. This special force will be used to control protests in addition to responding to terror threats.
Militarization of police forces only serves to sow mistrust between them and the public they’re supposed to protect. How can you support a plan to send officers trained to deal with terrorists to peaceful protests where lawful citizens are exercising their fundamental right to demonstration? There have already been so many cases of awful police brutality and unarmed, innocent people being beaten or killed by cops who have come to see common citizens as the enemy.
I’m writing to urge you to reject this plan. The militarization of the U.S. police is directly correlated with the number of citizens who are killed by cops. Giving them more intimidating and deadly equipment than ever will almost certainly end in more unnecessary deaths and greater animosity between the New York public and the NYPD. Don’t let that blood spill on your hands.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons