Scenes From Militarized America

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Here’s a photo of part of the police response to the protests in Anaheim today. As many times as I’ve seen and written about images like this one, I still find them startling. It just isn’t the sort of thing you’re supposed to see in a free society.

The heavy-handedness is Anaheim is particularly poignant when you consider that the protests themselves are in response to a rash of shootings by Anaheim cops, most notably Manuel Diaz last week, who was unarmed and shot twice. According to an attorney for the family, the second shot was to the back of the head as Diaz lay on the ground.

The punchline here is that after the police shoot Diaz, after they fire rubber bullets and pepper balls at protesters last week, after they call out the urban warfare unit this afternoon . . . everyone is calling on the protesters to remain peaceful.

(Photo via Twitter user “Atef.”)



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29 Responses to “Scenes From Militarized America”

  1. #1 |  Ghost | 

    Land of the free, indeed.

  2. #2 |  Mario | 

    This reminds me of my 9th grade earth science teacher, back in 1982, telling us the theory of how an Ice Age comes about. It used to be that scientists thought that the glaciers would creep out from poles, year after year, and gradually take over the globe. But they then revised their theory. I was taught that scientists believed that, as the Earth turned colder, pockets of ice would form, here and there. Maybe the first year or two they would last only through May or June. The following year the pockets might last all through the year. And after that they would begin to consolidate. It would all happen much more quickly than it would going by the creeping-glacier theory.

    This is what’s happening to our society. A standing army is being instituted, and the method being used is as insidious as the Ice Age I’ve described above. Our government is implementing pockets of de facto military personnel all throughout the land. We don’t see them on a daily basis—not everywhere. But soon we will see these pockets every day, all year round. Then these pockets will consolidate. And very soon after all our police, more or less, will be like this.

  3. #3 |  Darwin | 

    It was perfectly predictable that once the police and government were provided new powers through the patriot act etc they would abuse them. At 52 I have always been indifferent to cops but now I’m actively starting to dislike and distrust them.

  4. #4 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    Your punchline is actually what I siad back to TV last night when they had Police Spokeshole on to discuss preparations. Fuck me sideways already. I feel like the only way they get away this stuff is because nobody questions it!

  5. #5 |  roadgeek | 

    But…..I’m given to understand that the protestors in Anaheim are damaging businesses which have nothing to do with the police or the City of Anaheim. Why doesn’t Radley mention that in his article? How are the police supposed to react when confronted with a mob (no other word for it) rampaging through the downtown area? Doesn’t every coin have two sides?

    How would Radley Balko handle events in Anaheim?

  6. #6 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    @#6 roadgeek: I’m just turning on the news to see what transpired in Anaslime today, so right now, I have no idea. But let’s stipulate that with this ridiculous militarized presence, the crowd that materialized (whatever it turned out to be — they had no “permit to protest” as of last night) breaks a bunch of windows and destroys a bunch of property. Would you agree that the wanna-be-marines didn’t manage to protect squat? How about that they even provoked the crowd? They most certainly won’t have any deterrent effect, because there will be one smart guy in the crowd that knows that regardless of whether they have a tank or not, they operate under the same rules as they did last weekend, which is that they aren’t supposed to shoot unarmed civilians or let their dogs out on them.

  7. #7 |  DelicateOrc | 

    @roadgeek: maybe those thugs in blue costumes(i.e. police) shouldn’t shoot and kill an unarmed man and provoke a mob to riot or do you seriously expect people to just bow down and take any shit that’s thrown at them?

    BTW I’m a strong believer in property rights and if these protesters were destroying private property I have no problem with owners defending their property with any means necessary. But don’t for a second pretend this came out of no where or that these thugs in blue costumes are not the ones to be blamed.

  8. #8 |  Ariel | 


    This goes well back before the Patriot Act. It was only a flammable added to a fire already burning. Just made it hotter. In the long run, that may be a good thing.

  9. #9 |  Cop Haka | 

    The war on drugs is such a failure (even a counterproductive expenditure) That there must be a hidden agenda. I claim that that agenda is to fund this militarization.

  10. #10 |  Darwin | 

    I agree Ariel but it ramped up dramatically given the funds, equipment, and training provide by all the anti-terrorist laws.
    Road geek how ar you given to understand that people were rampaging through downtown Anaheim?
    Keep in mind police flacks lie. Especially when their cops have shot people in the back.

  11. #11 |  Bob | 

    Here’s my favorite statement:

    (Police Chief) Welter would not say what led the officer to shoot Diaz, citing an independent investigation by the county’s district attorney office. Police said Diaz was a known gang member.

    Mayor Tom Tait said he will ask the state attorney general to assist in the probe.

    “Transparency is essential. Whatever the truth is, we will own it,” Tait said.

    Really? Perhaps you should tell your Police Chief that “Transparency is essential”… because he obviously doesn’t think so.

    If you or I chased someone, possible gang member or not, down an alley and shot him to death… I’m PRETTY SURE that we would be questioned without mercy until we invoked the lawyer.

    The police, on the other hand… should NOT have this ‘protection’ while on duty. This whole “Well, we’re investigating it” dodge is crap!

    If your JOB is to carry a gun and investigate crimes, then you shouldn’t be able to say “Wait! I have miranda rights! I want my lawyer!” when you claim to be executing those duties. You get a lawyer AFTER you’re arrested just like the rest us, bitch! Before then, you need to explain yourself.

  12. #12 |  Ariel | 

    That was the flammable. We would have gotten there anyway, the bad parts of the Patriot Act just added haste.

    I’d also add the same question to roadgeek, but with qualification: show me the rampage then can you show where all the protesters were on a rampage? That was a dodge used by Bull Connor, as well those cops that nailed the dancing kid (the horse kicker) because, well, you know, other college students were doing bad things somewhere else at the same time so…. Oddly, the video didn’t support their case even after their management did the “other college students” crap.

    Bob: I share your outrage except when it’s a violation of “policy and procedure” because by contract that starts administratively, a job issue, rather than criminally. Otherwise, yeah, the LEOs accused of X crime, for which we get locked up as soon as they think they have a modicum of proof, but LEO gets to stay home with pay or no pay and 2,3, even 6 months later they finally lock him up is disgusting. However, they had to make absolutely sure for the LEO don’t you know. For you or me, not so much.

  13. #13 |  EH | 

    Bob, that’s why we can’t ask about the particulars anymore. However, I think a good line of questioning would be to ask by what criteria the officer(s) actions will be judged by. What policies apply to *any* officer when shooting someone in the back? I’d like to see them dodge those questions, if in fact we had a reporter class with the guts to ask them.

  14. #14 |  el coronado | 

    Bob, that’s a good comment, and I mostly agree with every word. But. Lurking here on this & other Libertarian sites – most of which, interestingly, are being slowly but surely overrun with hardcore liberal commenters and thus is the definition of “libertarianism” being slowly but surely bastardized, as was the 18th century phrase “well regulated” – what I’ve learned first & foremost is that one’s Miranda rights – yes, even for cops – exist *all the time*.

    The famous law prof “Never talk to the police” video was the key. There are so many laws that nobody has a hope in hell of knowing even 30% of them. In court, anything you tell a cop that helps *your* case cannot be used – hearsay – but anything you tell a cop that might hurt you MUST be used. Even telling a cop a “truthful response of an innocent witness” could end up with “providing [the prosecution] with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth.” (USSC Ohio v. Reiner, 2001).

    In this stupid-ass society conceived and ruined by the fucking lawyers, EVERYthing you do or say can end up with you being charged/prosecuted for one ‘crime’ or another. Thus, like it or not, you’re _ALWAYS_ on trial. Thus, you’re *always* testifying any time you talk to any cop, or worse, a federal agent. (It’s a felony to tell a lie to a govt agent. ANY govt agent: park ranger, IRS asshole, mailman…)(And they get to define the lie. So if they grab you and say “You sold stock via inside information!” and you protest “Did not!!” and a jury decides you did, you’re also guilty of “lying to a federal agent”. Ask Martha Stewart.) So if you’re always on trial, always testifying, your best – only, really – defense is to…not say anything, because literally anything can incriminate you. 5th amendment, baby. All day every day.

    And the beautiful thing is YOU get to decide if something “might” “possibly” incriminate you, so YOU get to just go with the assumption that ‘anything might’, and never ever ever talk to law enforcement w/out a lawyer. Cops are scum, but they’re still _American_ scum, so this applies to them too, more’s the pity. Being in the business, they damn well know that. So until the law and/or Constitution changes, (and it will: police states have no use for a 5th amendment), do what the pros do: keep your mouth shut any time you even *suspect* an LEO might be anywhere nearby. They won’t like it. Too bad. They’ll lie and tell you….anything they think might convince you. Ignore ’em: if their mouths are moving, odds are they’re lying. They’ll threaten to charge you with “obstruction”. They won’t, anymore than they’ll ever fire their tanks or open up with their .50’s.

    They’re using the system as cover, because the Constitution says they can. So should you.

  15. #15 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Of course they’ll return fire, el coronado.

  16. #16 |  Michael Chaney | 

    The reason you tell the people to calm down instead of the police is that you know telling the police that wouldn’t do any good.

  17. #17 |  Whim | 

    I wonder if the U.S. Army and Marine Corps personnel object to the Anaheim police wearing military-grade camouflage uniforms, including combat boots and Kevlar helmets?

    Seems like the police are trying to impersonate elite military personnel……

  18. #18 |  Adrian | 

    Are those police wearing the camouflage or are they soldiers? I’m not a first time reader but even I am genuinely confused here. I’ve seen pictures of police with black balaclavas, with body armour and sitting in tanks. But urban camouflage? That’s insane. Are the protesters now supposed to be akin to enemy soldiers?

    I had thought it was against the law to deploy soldiers for internal police work but surely at some point the police become another branch of the military.

  19. #19 |  demize! | 

    Its not “urban camouflage” its Desert Camouflage which reinforces your point. This is so completely inappropriate and inflammatory in every way, I’m inclined to view that its policy to meet any resistance with completely over the top force like the “chalk walk” last week.

  20. #20 |  Charlie O | 

    It’s time for armed rebellion in this country. This picture is exactly the answer when anti-gun advocates go screeching about “why does anyone need an AK-47 or an AR-15.” These guys are why citizens of this country should be allowed to have an AK-47, an SKS or AR-15. These guys.

  21. #21 |  Personanongrata | 

    Well isn’t that special Anaheim PD all geared up and ready to go out on combat patrol. The problem being is they aren’t operating in a theater of war but rather in our local home towns.

    The way our home town police departments gear up for crowd control only serves to expose the polictians and their benefactors as the frightened little people they truly are.

    If enough peaceful people pressure is applied in just the right spots these criminals operating under the guise of law (our government) will fold like cheap lawn furniture.

    Accountability is the word of the day at the federal, state and local levels of government.

    “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!” ~ Mario Savio

  22. #22 |  Mr Lizard | 

    Ha ha ha. Tactikool equals sweating balls. Just remember that a team of barefoot threadbare Nigerian rebels is more effective in the California heat than these wannabes.

  23. #23 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    roadgeek: “But…..I’m given to understand that the protestors in Anaheim are damaging businesses which have nothing to do with the police or the City of Anaheim.”

    Oh dear. Another devastating attack on a Starbucks? Oh how will this downtrodden multinational recover?

    Look roadgeek, I generally don’t endorse property destruction, but let me introduce you to an anarchist concept: there is a difference between private (capitalist) property and possession (as in personal possessions). As far as I know, the businesses targeted during these uprisings would fall under the category of capitalist private property. Furthermore, the property damaged generally belongs to a very large corporation, not a small, locally owned coffee shop. When this tactic is used, it is usually done for symbolic reasons, though I’m sure a few looters get into the mix from time to time. The message behind this tactic is that the private property in question is illegitimate, because it is a product of an illegitimate state capitalist system.

    Delicateorc (#7) suggests that the owners of the businesses should defend their property. Well, he’s on the right track, but this doesn’t happen. Capitalist firms will always fall back on the coercive apparatus of the state to defend their property rights against the rabble. Just like they would call in the police if you or I decided to start a sit down strike inside our workplaces to fight for better conditions. Again, the property being attacked is, to the best of my knowledge, not owned by individual owners or workers. If this was the case, I would share your anger. The owners of the property being attacked by “black block” practitioners is owned by the state-created, state-supported, legal fictions we know as corporations. Sometimes when you benefit mightily from a system of exploitation, people aren’t going to like you that much.

  24. #24 |  jdb79 | 

    #23 – Somehow I doubt that Rothbard would agree with your distinction between private property and, well, private property.

    Or perhaps the an-caps and agorists and every other breed of anarchist who respect the reality of territoriality and property rights just aren’t true enough Scotsmen for your tastes.

  25. #25 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #24 jdb79:
    To be blunt, fuck Rothbard. You invoke the authority of Rothbard and “every other breed of anarchist” like it is absolute evidence of the morality of private property. Considering Rothbard’s own inconsistencies and his later turn to angry white man “paleo conservatism,” I don’t think he was the best example.

    With that being said, anyone can use the term anarchist. However, a person who calls themselves an anarchist should understand that anarchism and libertarianism weren’t concepts that were cooked up in some post World War II lab by Rothbard, Mises or David Friedman. The first people who called themselves libertarians were socialists. The first person who called himself an anarchist was P.J. Proudhon. Proudhon (who is connected to Mutualist economic theory) was explicitly anti-capitalist and asked the question “what is property.” His answer: “property is theft.” The American anarchist Benjamin Tucker called his ideas “anarchistic socialism.” So if you are trying to infer that my ideas aren’t aligned with the cool kids, then you need to review your anarchist history.

    But back to property. If you have only read Rothbard, Hayek, Friedman (David or Milton) Hazlitt or Rand (god help you), then I can understand why my comments have confused you. So I would suggest that you look further back in history. Google “the enclosure movement” to get a feel for why some people believe the current form of private property accumulation is unjust. Also, read about the concept of “wage slavery.”

    Private property as we now know it could not exist without the assistance and the coercive force of the state that right-libertarians claim to fear. In the absence of the state, I believe that capitalists would have to rely on extreme violence to keep “their piece of the pie.” In pointing this out, I am not objecting to personal possession and I am damn sure not advocating state socialism.

    If you want to be an “an-cap,” that is your right. In the anarchist society that I envision, no one would interfere if you wanted to set up an “an-cap” community (some floating man made island or gated community, no doubt). But I would not allow you to employ me and I would also reserve the right to boycott your goods and try to persuade your workers (“wage slaves”) to organize. If you responded with repression of those workers, you would prove my point that “anarcho” capitalism would just lead to the formation of a private state composed of a few wealthy capitalists, a repressive private security force (to keep the wage slaves in line) and a lot of downtrodden workers. I think that the “company towns” of old, unfortunately, are examples of what would happen in an “an-cap” community. And when the “an-caps” showed their true colors, they would sow the seeds of their own destruction. No commie coercion required.

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  27. #27 |  demize! | 

    #25 Nice!!

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