The Keene police’s acquisition of a “Bearcat” armored vehicle speaks volumes about how the police have gone from being thoughtful peace officers dedicated to protecting and serving the people to a band of robotic militarized marauders called “law enforcers” dedicated to caging peaceful people and protecting and serving the system.
The Keene Sentinel has posted letters to the editor recently from locals who are very concerned over this monstrosity:
Here’s one from Craig Dallas Rice:
Citizens deserve a say on police truck
“There’s something happening here;
“What it is ain’t exactly clear;
“There’s a man with a gun over there;
“Telling me I got to beware;
“I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down”
(Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”).
Homeland Security says we better beware. So do the Keene police. So does the Keene City Council.
But what do the citizens of Keene say?
I guess the City Council doesn’t care because we were not asked or allowed to discuss this at the City Council meeting where the council voted to get an armored truck called a Lenco BearCat Special Mission Public Safety Vehicle.
Is it possible that an armored truck could come in handy during an emergency involving armed killers? Bank robbers ready for a shootout? Driving up close to take a look at a suspicious package?
Of course it would. Of course they already train for these situations with what equipment they have now as well. If they need more they can call it in from somewhere else too.
These military-style vehicles are being used time and again to attack unarmed civilians all over the world by their own government forces (including police). There is an ever increasing military style of law enforcement in this country.
Remember Waco? Remember Ruby Ridge? More recently we have witnessed drones spying on U.S. citizens and heavy-handedness on the part of police during Occupy Wall Street crackdowns. Giving the police military style vehicles will only give them more excuses to use them in a military manner.
Once they have spent time and money training personnel on how to use this tactical vehicle, they will be itching to find ways to try it out.
I do not believe that we really need this vehicle in Keene. The Monadnock Region is one of the safest areas in the world. As it stands now, the police and rescue personnel do what they do with adequate and modern equipment. They can continue to improve the way they handle situations in the future without military-style enhancement. Policing will still involve the legal use of violence in some situations but if they need a tank or an airstrike, I guess it is still better to call the National Guard.
If we the people still have any say, I hope we will be heard to say no to the BearCat.
CRAIG DALLAS RICE
Keene does not need a tank.
I have had my ears and eyes open, and the vast majority of response to this tank we are getting is negative. It seems like the only people that were for it were the city councilors.
I call for a town meeting to reconsider this tank.
And a meeting where the townsfolk know about the meeting, and not one that is quick and barely publicized.
I am opposed to this tank, but if we must have it foisted upon us, I propose we immediately sell it to the highest bidder and and use the money toward the ice skating rink that has been proposed for the city.
We either get it and sell it, or we don’t get it at all.
and here’s another from Kelly Voluntaryist:
To Whom It May Concern / Keene City Council,
I write today with great concern in regards to the recent news that there will soon be a BearCat patrolling the streets of the city in which I call home. On December 15, the Keene City Council voted to accept a grant of $285,933 from the federal Department of Homeland Security for the purchase of a BearCat “Special Mission” Public Safety Vehicle. To clarify, a BearCat is an armored police vehicle which bears strong resemblance to vehicles used by the US Military in time of war. My first question is this: What rightful place could such a thing possibly have in the free, peaceful, society of Keene, New Hampshire?
According to police militarization expert Radley Balko, author of Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (2006), which can be read in full as originally published by the Cato Institute (citation below):
“Americans have long maintained that a man’s home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.” (http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/13673446)http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/13673446)
This is the future that the continued militarization of the Keene Police Department holds for the citizens of Keene. One only needs to watch the news or read a newspaper for further proof that a BearCat truly has no proper place in a peaceful society. As a government accountability activist in Arizona, I have closely witnessed the development of several up close and personal examples of police militarization and high level “government” corruption. One such instance took place when infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio teamed up with reality actor Steven Seagal for an extra special episode of Steven Seagal: Lawman, the actor’s current A&E gig. They raided the home of Jesus Sanchez Llovera because, as a chicken farmer, he was suspected of “cockfighting”, which is illegal in the state of Arizona. Seagal drove the MCSO tank into Llovera’s home, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. The Llovera family’s dog was executed in the raid, as were the chickens the raid was supposedly executed to protect.
Another example of the effects of a growing police state on a community was the murder of two time veteran and father Jose Guerena by the SWAT team in Tuscon, AZ. On the morning of May 5th, 2011, Guerena’s wife Vanessa saw men dressed in all black standing outside her home with automatic weapons. She screamed for her husband, who subsequently woke up and grabbed his gun, telling his wife to take their four year old son and hide in the closet. Unfortunately, the armed gang of thugs surrounding the Guerena’s home shot at him 71 times and left him there for dead; after surviving Iraq and Afghanistan, Jose Guerena bled to death on the floor of his own home, at the hands of his own government, as his wife and son watched in horror. The safety on his weapon had never even been deactivated.
Finally, one only needs to look at the violence initiated against the peaceful people at Occupy protests across the country for proof that militarization of police has no place in peaceful society. On the first night of the Occupy Phoenix protests in October, I along with a few hundred other protestors were directed to an enclosed park where we were told we could spend the night. As the evening wore on, we began to notice that the park was surrounded by hundreds of police vehicles and that police were setting up a tear gas truck. They had decided that we could not spend the night after all, and the incident ended with an army dressed in full black military gear and face masks turning off all power to the park and kidnapping 45 individuals in the dark. It was just as intimidating as they intended it to be and an experience I won’t soon forget.
Sadly, this is the reality of police militarization. It is also worth mentioning the question of who is paying for all of this? One only has to look at each and every one of their tax records to answer that. A large portion of the federal tax you pay goes to national defense, and is trickling down from the federal government to protect from “enemies foreign and domestic” thus initiating a war against anyone who is tired of having their rights violated, their freedoms stolen, and their property “repossessed” by the United States Government. The irony lies in the fact that we as a people are actively participating in our own destruction through both the legitimization and funding of our own slavery. As free human beings we have a moral obligation to withdraw our support of and consent to tyranny. I moved to Keene to escape the effects of police militarization and we must not allow this in our city! Personally, I neither support nor consent to a BearCat being driven through my backyard nor through that of my peaceful neighbors and I genuinely hope many others will join me in saying a great big NO to a BearCat in the city of Keene.
Seems the people of Keene know the police aren’t their friends and that it is they who are the greatest threat to our liberty.