The protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the past week came to a tense head on Wednesday evening, as heavily-armed police officers — many wearing military-style uniforms and gear — fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd to get them to disperse.
As we have seen in many small-town police departments, some officers in Ferguson, with a population of 21,000, looked more like soldiers than members of law enforcement as they responded to protests after a cop shot an unarmed, black 18-year-old.
In fact, the St. Louis County and Ferguson police departments have both received equipment previously used by the military under the Pentagon’s 1033 program in recent years.
We looked over some of the photos from recent days and identified equipment that is similar to that used in military operations overseas. While some of these items have obvious crossover from military to police usage, others being used — like sniper rifles being aimed at unarmed crowds and armoured vehicles — seem to serve more to intimidate rather than help with crowd control.
It’s worth noting that while the majority of demonstrators have been defiant, but peaceful, some have been seen throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, and bottles. However, the local police tactics have not been successful in deescalating the situation, and on Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) pulled local police and replaced them with State Highway patrolmen.
Here’s what some officers are wearing:
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