(originally published in truthout on August 31st, 2016)
Police violence is at the heart of a perpetual crisis in the United States. Today military-grade equipment and training is broadly available to officers. Such developments are especially distressing given the impunity American police have always enjoyed when terrorizing or attacking racialized communities. The tendency to wage violence of this kind -- essentially to target Black and Brown people -- implicates American police in a history of imperialist violence. This is why War Resisters League has been campaigning against those amongst the private sector and federal agencies that sustain police militarism.
The roots of American policing extend back to country's settler colonial origins, which shapes present society. Armed patrols that pursued escaped slaves and suppressed Native American populations became the "forerunners" of police departments throughout country. Further development of American imperial and colonial tendencies cultivated relationships between racial dominion, militarism and police procedure. Stuart Schraeder refers to how police reform in the 1950s grew from techniques used in the US occupation of the Philippines post World War II. Those very techniques were instrumental to suppressing Black, Puerto Rican, student and Third World Solidarity uprisings of the 1960s and 1970s. In the context of the present War on Terror, police have brought similar techniques to bear focus on Muslim's as a racialized group . . .