How the US police in Ferguson became a militarised unit equipped for war
On Saturday August 9, a young unarmed black man called Michael Brown was shot dead by a white cop in the suburbs of St Louis, Missouri. Many locals were incensed, not just by the shooting but by the hostile police response in the hours after Brown died. No ambulance was called and members his family were barked at by angry police when they arrived at the scene. Brown lay on the street for four hours as a crowd grew and tension increased.
Local and then national media arrived, as did police reinforcements.
Across America people were shocked by what they saw. Rather than lines of police officers, the reinforcements looked like soldiers. They wore the same camouflage gear people were used to seeing in news reports from Iraq and Afghanistan. And like soldiers they arrived in armoured cars and carried rifles.
Not everyone was shocked though. Many saw this as simply the most blatant manifestation of a dangerous trend that began long ago, the militarisation of America’s police.