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ACLU Report: War Comes Home

“As the number of troop-heavy foreign interventions decreases, the warcraft and weaponry used in battle are now being deployed in neighborhoods as members and machines of law enforcement become increasingly indistinguishable from those of the military.

This is the situation as revealed in a new report published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.”

A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2 year-old son” is perhaps the best example of a headline announcing the horrific impact this conversion can have when left unchecked.

As reported by The New American, a toddler is in a medically induced coma after a Cornelia, Georgia, SWAT team tossed a flash-bang grenade into his crib during the execution of a “no-knock” warrant.

Bounkham Phonesavanh is 19 months old and was asleep in his crib when police broke down the front door in the early morning hours on May 28 and threw the grenade into the front room. His mother, father, and three sisters were in the room as well.

Earlier this week, the baby’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, described the ordeal in detail, including the relevant account of the near fatal blurring of the line between soldier and cop:

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

The ACLU provides a brief history of the creation and transformation of SWAT:

SWAT [Special Weapons And Tactics] teams were created in the late 1960s as “quasi-militaristic” squads capable of addressing serious and violent situations that presented imminent threats such as riots, barricade and hostage scenarios, and active shooter or sniper situations. The first SWAT team, at the Los Angeles Police Department, was developed in the wake of a series of emergency situations in which local police felt unable to respond as swiftly or as effectively as was necessary. SWAT teams have since expanded in number, and are used with greater frequency and, increasingly, for purposes for which they were not originally intended — overwhelmingly to serve search warrants in drug investigations.

In the case of Bounkham Phonesavanh, SWAT team members executed the no-knock warrant after receiving a tip from an informant that he had bought methamphetamine from a man named Wanis Thometheva earlier that day. Precisely the perversion of the power documented in the ACLU report.

“War Comes Home” observes 818 SWAT operations from July 2010 to October 2013. These operations were carried out by more than 20 law enforcement agencies in 11 states.

The 96-page report reveals that the increasingly militaristic police — forces equipped, trained, and often outfitted by the Pentagon — are behaving with a belligerence more at home on the battlefield in the face of an armed enemy than in neighborhoods while performing routine duties once accomplished with little more than a squad car and a badge……”

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