NGO Letter To House Armed Services Calling For an End to Department of Defense 1033 Program that Transfers Military Surplus Equipment to Police

July 1, 2020

June 30, 2020
Dear House Armed Services Committee Members:
The undersigned civil, human rights, faith, and government accountability organizations,
representing millions of our members across the country, write in support of ending the
Department of Defense’s 1033 Program and associated transfers of all military equipment and
vehicles to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

The military surplus equipment transfer program, known as the 1033 Program, was formally
established in the 1997 FY National Defense Authorization Act. Since its inception, more than
$7.4 billion in surplus military equipment and goods, including armored vehicles, rifles, and
aircraft, have been transferred to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies.

The program came to national attention in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, Congressional leaders have tried to reform or end this program that has caused an increase in militarized policing particularly in communities of color.

Research studies indicate that the 1033 Program is not only unsafe but ineffective as it fails to
reduce crime or improve police safety. In 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order
13688 that provided necessary oversight of the program. The Executive Order has since been
rescinded, which only underscores that legislative action — not executive orders — is critical to
address the concerns with this program.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have
also received enormous amounts of excess military equipment as part of the militarization of our
border. This is particularly concerning at a time when ICE and CBP units are being deployed in
response to peaceful protests and for interior law enforcement programs.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, millions have demonstrated globally
against police brutality and systemic racism. In cities across our country, hundreds of thousands
of demonstrators called for justice and accountability for George Floyd and the countless
unarmed Black people that have been killed by law enforcement.

In response to the national outrage, armored vehicles, assault weapons, and military gear once
again filled our streets and communities, turning them into war zones. Weapons of war have
absolutely no place in our communities. What’s more, evidence has shown that law
enforcement agencies that obtain military equipment are more prone to violence.

There are sincere and aggressive efforts in the House and Senate to severely curtail or end
the Department of Defense 1033 Program. Millions of Americans have been calling for the 1033 Program to be shut down, with legislation introduced in both chambers to address these
concerns. Accordingly, we urge you to use the opportunity of the full committee markup of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act to support and include language to end the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program.

Thank you for your consideration.

Action Corps
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN)
America’s Voice
Amnesty International USA
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Arms Control Association
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Beyond the Bomb
Bridges Faith Initiative
Center for Civilians in Conflict
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Center for International Policy
Center for Victims of Torture
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Common Defense

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
Drug Policy Alliance
Farmworker Association of Florida
The Feminist Foreign Policy Project
Foreign Policy for America
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Government Accountability Project
Government Information Watch
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
Islamophobia Studies Center
Jewish Voice for Peace Action
Just Foreign Policy
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
March For Our Lives
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Justice League
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Council of Churches
National Disability Rights Network
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Iranian American Council Action
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New York Immigration Coalition
Open Society Policy Center
Our Revolution
Oxfam America
Peace Action
People For the American Way

Poligon Education Fund
Project Blueprint
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
ReThinking Foreign Policy
Restore The Fourth
Security Policy Reform Institute (SPRI)
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
Sierra Club
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Southern Border Communities Coalition
SPLC Action Fund
Stand Up America
Texas Civil Rights Project
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
US Labor Against the War
Veterans for American Ideals
Win Without War
Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS)
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
World BEYOND War
Yemeni Alliance Committee
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation