ACLU Responds to Trump Administration Giving Military Equipment to Police Departments
Nashville, TN — Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Donald Trump will issue an executive order today allowing the federal government to give police departments certain military equipment—such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons, and armored vehicles—through the Department of Defense 1033 program and other federal programs. President Barack Obama had stopped the federal government from providing these weapons and vehicles to police through the 1033 program and others in a 2015 executive order.
We have an epidemic in the United States of police using excessive force, particularly against people of color, with injuries and deaths mounting. It defies logic to arm the police with weapons of war—grenade launchers, high-caliber assault weapons, and more—but that’s precisely what President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have decided to do.
Three years ago this month, the nation witnessed a highly militarized, violent crackdown by police on protesters in Ferguson. Today’s executive order erases the sensible limits placed by the Obama administration after Ferguson on the kinds of military equipment flowing from the federal government to local police and into our neighborhoods. Tensions between law enforcement and communities remain high, yet the president and the attorney general are giving the police military-grade weaponry instead of practical, effective ways to protect and serve everyone.
— Kanya Bennett, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office
Read War Comes Home, the ACLU’s report on the militarization of the police.