[News] Israel-trained police "occupy" Missouri after killing of Michael Brown
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 15 11:39:07 EDT 2014
Israel-trained police "occupy" Missouri after killing of black youth
Submitted by Rania Khalek on Fri, 08/15/2014
Since the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in
Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a
military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments
dressed like combat soldiers, prompting residents to liken the
conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation
And who can blame them?
The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging
through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed
residents and launching tear gas into people's front yards from behind
armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a
Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank.
And it's no coincidence.
At least two of the four law enforcement agencies
that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening --- the St.
Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department ---
received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.
It all started when a yet to be named Ferguson police officer killed
Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. According to witnesses, Brown
was attempting to surrender with his hands up when a Ferguson police
officer emptied his clip
into Brown's body, shooting the teen up to ten times.
For hours police left Brown's lifeless body sprawled in the street
uncovered as a growing number of residents gathered nearby demanding
answers from authorities. Police responded by deploying K-9 units and
riot squads to crush the crowd, predictably inciting a riot, which
police used to justify more brute force.
But the people of Ferguson refuse to submit and have mobilized every
single day to demand justice for Brown and an end to the racist
they live under.
"Hands up, don't shoot
become their rallying cry, a symbol of Brown in his last moments and
what it means to be black in America, where every 28 hours
an African-American is killed by a self-styled vigilante, security guard
or police officer.
Still, police did not relent, prompting one Ferguson protester to shout
at a row of military-style tactical vehicles, "You gonna shoot us? Is
this the Gaza Strip <http://instagram.com/p/rn68uHEQUM/>?"
"Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community
be bombed like last night with tear gas? That was a terrorist attack,"
another Ferguson protester to /The Daily Beast/.
Meanwhile, journalists were manhandled and detained
were caught on video deliberately firing tear gas
at an Al Jazeera America film crew as they were setting up their equipment.
Even elected officials weren't spared. Missouri state Senator Maria
Chappelle-Nadal was tear gassed
and St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who had been documenting the
unfolding police repression in Ferguson on social media since just after
Brown's murder, was arrested
As the situation spiraled further out of control, Palestinians began
advice <https://twitter.com/Rajaiabukhalil/status/499754907579473920> on
dealing with tear gas to the people of Ferguson.
Cops become soldiers
Domestic policing in the US has a long and sordid history rooted in the
violent control and subjugation of communities of color, so the police
violence directed at the predominantly black residents of Ferguson is
But the widespread militarization on display in Ferguson is part of a
more recent trend
that began three decades ago with the introduction of the disastrous
"war on drugs" and dramatically escalated with the "war on terror" ---
leading directly to the counterinsurgency-like tactics deployed against
the people of Ferguson by civilian police officers who more closely
resemble combat soldiers in Afghanistan than domestic cops
This cop-to-soldier transformation
has been facilitated by the US government through mechanisms like the
Pentagon's 1033 or military surplus program, which funnels excess
military gear to law enforcement agencies across the country. The
program's motto: "From warfighter to crimefighter."
In 2013 alone, the program showered US police departments with nearly
of military equipment.
St. Louis County law enforcement agencies, including the Ferguson Police
this program and have received military-grade rifles, pistols and night
vision equipment in recent years, though it's unclear if the equipment
is being used in Ferguson now.
As /The New York Times/ reported
in June, the scaling down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means
"former tools of combat --- M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers
and more --- are ending up in local police departments, often with
little public notice."
"During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police
departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly
200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and
night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and
aircraft," the newspaper added.
Ferguson police also receive money from the Department of Homeland
Security as part of a grant program that has doled out billions to US
law enforcement agencies to purchase military-style equipment, like the
armored personnel carriers (APCS) charging through the streets of Ferguson.
In the last five years alone, Missouri has received nearly $70 million
in DHS money
for law enforcement related programs.
While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the
US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel's
security apparatus facilitates it.
Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a
captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a
booming "homeland security industry" in Israel, that refashions
occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other
parts of the world, including St. Louis.
Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police
agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in
occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal
dubbed "the Israelification <http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/2178> of
America's security apparatus." Israeli forces and US police departments
are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has
opened a branch in Tel Aviv
In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch
attended the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism
annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement
executives "study first hand Israel's tactics and strategies" directly
from "senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from
Israel's intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense
Forces," according to the ADL's website.
Until Thursday night, the St. Louis County Police Department appeared to
be the largest most militarized and brutish force operating in Ferguson.
"St. Louis County Police" was scrawled across the side of most of the
tactical unit vehicles
appeared on the combat-style uniforms
of officers aiming assault rifles at peaceful protesters
The ADL boasts of sending over 175 senior US law enforcement officials
from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are "taking
the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States."
The ADL is just one of several pro-Israel groups forging close ties
between US cops and Israel's security and intelligence apparatus.
Another is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a
neoconservative think tank that claims to have hosted some 9,500
<http://www.jinsa.org/files/leepConferences.pdf> law enforcement
officials in its Law Enforcement Exchange Program
(LEEP) since 2004.
LEEP "takes delegations of senior law enforcement executives to Israel
to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting
to acts of terrorism" and "sponsors conferences within the United
States, bringing Israeli experts before much larger groups of law
enforcement leaders," according to JINSA's brochure
Former St. Louis Police Department police chief Joseph Mokwa is listed
as having traveled to Israel
<http://www.jinsa.org/files/leepParticipants.pdf> as part of a LEEP
conference in February 2008
Following nationwide outrage and embarrassment, Missouri Governor Jay
Nixon pulled St. Louis County Police forces out of Ferguson and placed
the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of policing demonstrators. The St.
Louis Police Department voluntarily removed its officers from Ferguson.
As a result, Ferguson no longer looks like occupied territory
though the underlying issue, Michael Brown's murder, has yet to be
Meanwhile, the scope of Israel's influence on US law enforcement remains
virtually ignored by the media despite the troubling implications of
emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and
The culture of racism and impunity that has long plagued American
policing is deadly enough as it is. Adding Israeli-style repression to
an already dangerous mix guarantees disaster.
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