[News] Israel-trained police "occupy" Missouri after killing of Michael Brown

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
of Palestine.

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.

    Brute force

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 
undemocratic regime 
they live under.

"Hands up, don't shoot 
<http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-hands-up-20140813-story.html>" has 
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 
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/huffington-post-reporter-arrested-ferguson_n_5676829.html?cl33r>. Police 
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 
tweeting <https://twitter.com/MariamBarghouti/status/499754015983681536> 
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 
nothing new.

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 
$450 million 
<http://www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/leso/Pages/default.aspx> worth 
of military equipment.

St. Louis County law enforcement agencies, including the Ferguson Police 
Department, participate 
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.

    Emulating apartheid

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 
<http://dc.adl.org/national-counter-terrorism-seminar-in-israel/>, an 
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 
<http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/news_and_politics/photography/2014/08/ferguson/140814_POL_Ferguson_07.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg> and 
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 
war crimes.

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.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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