Having grown up in South Africa under apartheid, I am no stranger to the dangers of police militarization. In high school in the 80s, I attended an all-girls boarding school in Pretoria. The police would frequently come to our school to warn us "the terrorists are coming." The "terrorists" were anyone the regime did not like.
One day, unbeknownst to us, the police detonated smoke bombs in our school to simulate a terror attack. We girls truly believed we were under fire. I was eleven or twelve, a volunteer school fire-fighter, and I leopard-crawled upstairs–fighting the smoke, tears and snot streaming down my face, bruises forming on my elbows and knees–to try to save my friends. Needless to say, when I learned the "attack" that terrified us so was orchestrated BY the police, my views about "good guys" and "bad guys" started to evolve.
America is marching lockstep towards a bona fide police state. This is not hyperbole. America incarcerates the most people on the planet. Today, police commit 1 out of 12 of all killings in the United States. In 2015, 41 officers were slain in the line of duty, while police killed 1,207 Americans. You are 8 times (some say 55 times) more likely to die at the hands of the police than a terrorist. Here in Manchester, an entire neighborhood was recently placed under lockdown, a daytime curfew, something you would never expect to see in a free society.
If you believe police militarization is necessary to protect you from the virtually nonexistent threat of terrorism, understand this fear mongering is being pushed on you by politicians and news media outlets who stand to gain from your fear. Scared people are controllable people.
Your children are being trained in school, like I was, to fear. In Manchester in May, schools were locked down 11 times in 3 weeks. Active shooter drills with "simulated injuries" that "may be visible on volunteer participants" take place in New Hampshire routinely, in hospitals, schools, and elsewhere. In other parts of the country, things are worse, e.g. the CIA forgot a bomb on a school bus after a drill. Do you want this to happen here?
And while you are being scared into submission, the police are being armed and trained to see you as the enemy. The police are being given more and more military grade equipment, funded mostly with federal grants, paid for by YOU, the taxpayer. You are literally paying for your own enslavement.
In 2013, while I was president of the FSP, the then police chief of Concord falsely claimed participants of my organization were a "domestic terrorist threat" in a federal grant application to get a $260,000 BEARCAT–a cuddly name for a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. The kind of vehicle you see in a war zone, not in a town with 2 homicides per decade. If YOU lie on a government form, you can be fined and/or imprisoned. When government officials break the law, they get off scot-free because "accidents happen," or, when the crimes get Too Big to Jail, they run for president!
Long story short (you can read more here, here, here, and here, which includes links to media coverage), despite more than 1,500 paper petition signatures garnered from Concord residents, the town voted to accept the BEARCAT. The city council flat-out ignored their constituents, siding with the police over the people, something we see all too often in New Hampshire. The police chief kinda, sorta apologized for demonizing peaceful, limited government proponents, and quietly stepped down a few months later.
Even if you think BEARCATs proliferating across the state isn’t a big deal, what about the increasing military tactics being used on our streets, or all the rifles, scopes, and other tactical gear local police are being armed with, even in places like little ole Laconia? Don’t take my word for it, watch what this retired Marine colonel has to say about what is happening:
"We are building a domestic military, because it is unlawful or unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil, so what we are doing is building a military… Homeland Security is pre-staging gear, equipment… What they are trying to do is use standardized vehicles, standardized equipment… Let’s not kid ourselves, what we are doing is building a domestic army because the government is afraid of its own citizens."
Why? Why are they afraid? Could it be because we are over-taxed, over-policed, and over-incarcerated? That 79.8% of people disapprove of the job congress is doing? Could it be because there was no real economic recovery after the 2000 and 2008 crashes caused by the federal government’s inflationary policies and money printing? Could it be they are worried about the ever-growing $19 TRILLION dollars of debt, a number so unfathomable people gloss over it, unaware this astronomical number excludes unfunded liabilities like social security and pensions?
Perhaps it is the fact that for the first time, thanks to the internet and social media, we can discover the truth for ourselves, and communicate directly with thousands of other people across the state, country, and globe? That they realize they no longer control the narrative, that, as Hillary Clinton put it in 2011 in a bid for more funding for the state department’s propaganda machine: “We are in an information war and we are losing that war.”
Sadly, America loves war. Besides the foreign interventions, at home we have the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on terror. Frankly, none of these "wars" work out as intended, and all of us end up as collateral damage to failed DC policies.
It is imperative that we reverse the militarization of police here in the Granite State.
As your senator, I will not support legislation to increase police militarization and will actively work to reverse this trend. We also need more accountability and transparency regarding these programs, especially those being pushed locally by the federal government. We need more reporting on what equipment is available, how it is being used, and what training is taking place.
Remember, when all one has is a hammer, eventually everything looks like a nail. As I said in this speech during the pro-police accountability rally I organized as a West Manchester homeowner after the lockdown, YOU are the nail.
If we don’t end this trend towards police militarization, one day soon you will find yourself living under tyranny and wonder how we got there. Not on my watch! Find me on Facebook at Carla Gericke for NH State Senate. Please donate today!
Photo credit: Poster made by concerned West Manchester resident after the lockdown. All photos are from police action in Manchester, NH.