NEW YORK – According to news reports, President Obama will announce in Camden, N.J. today that he will ban the supply of some military-style equipment and curb the use of others by local police departments. Amnesty International USA reiterated its call for the demilitarization of police after events unfolded in Ferguson last summer.
Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement:
“As the U.S. continues to grapple with its deep-seated issues around race and policing, we’ve seen the country’s streets increasingly resemble war zones. In both Ferguson and Baltimore, tensions almost immediately escalated between law enforcement and civilians in the presence of militarized weapons and gear. It’s clear that equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and violence is inevitable rather than possible. Police around the country should prioritize de-escalating tensions and protecting the right to peaceful protest.
“While today’s announcement is a hopeful step forward, more has to be done to make sure police aren't using unnecessary or excessive force by requiring agencies to submit data on the use of lethal force, and ensuring their use of force policies are aligned with international standards.”