Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) weighed in on the ongoing protests in Ferguson, Missouri on Thursday with a passionate op-ed decrying the “militarization” of U.S. police forces around the country.
Paul, a libertarian-minded politician eyeing a potential presidential campaign in 2016, said police forces are in something of an arms race and competing with one another to have the best weapons.
“There is a systemic problem with today’s law enforcement. Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement,” Paul wrote in an op-ed for Time magazine.
The protests in Ferguson started after an unarmed African-American teen, Michael Brown, was fatally shot in a police encounter last Saturday. Paul, who has campaigned for criminal justice reform and blasted U.S. drug laws as racially biased, connected that campaign to the demonstration’s following Brown’s death.
“Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them,” he wrote. “Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.”
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