“The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States facilitated by this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression.”
Never mind if you don’t think that his policies go far enough, that they help working people to the extent that they should, and so on. As you may have heard, President Joe Biden isn’t even fulfilling the promises that he actually made on the campaign trail.
Obviously, pledges are open to interpretation, there’s always tomorrow, something about compromise, etc. But if it’s details and specifics you are looking for, Mass Peace Action has you covered. Here’s what they sent over yesterday:
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden committed himself to the pursuit of racial justice. Now president, Joe Biden’s pledge to merely “alter” the Department of Defense’s 1033 program is an affront to that commitment. Nothing short of complete abolition of this program is acceptable. The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States facilitated by this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 that then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) supported and President Bill Clinton (D) signed into law created the 1033 program by expanding on previous institutions.
The expansion allowed law-enforcement agencies to purchase surplus military weapons at dramatically discounted prices. As a result, the 1033 program became one of the primary mechanisms that caused hyper-militarization of local and state police agencies across the United States. Under the purview of the 1033 program, $7.4 billion in military gear has been transferred onto our streets since the 1990s.
In response to outrage over the heavily militarized police response to protests that followed Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama enacted a policy in 2015 that appeared to limit the program. However, it made little difference in any department’s ability to acquire and use military weapons.
Even with the scale-back, the Obama administration managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to police agencies. That was 14 times as many weapons of terror and death as President George W. Bush gifted local police in 2008, the year during which such transfers had reached their peak.
In fact, during the Obama administration, the 1033 program expanded by 24-fold (2,400%).
President Donald Trump came into office and reversed Obama’s mere cosmetic changes.
What the Biden administration is now proposing — a reversal of Trump’s reversal of the Obama Administration’s half-measure — is not enough. Reinstatement of the Obama Administration’s policy is not justice.
What is required is demilitarization and an end to the police occupation of colonized Black and Brown communities. These police forces are not committed to protect and serve the interests of those communities, but the interests of powerful oppressive forces outside of those communities.
What the Biden administration and Democrats fail to admit is that this program was put into place as the latest form of militarized repression deployed to control and contain Black and Brown poor and working-class populations.
Hyper-policing, incarceration, surveillance, infiltration, direct military assaults, and extrajudicial murders have long characterized the relationship between U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies and the Black and Brown colonized and working classes of the United States. The label may have changed from the “War on Crime” to the “War on Drugs” to the “War on Terror” to the 2021 “War on Domestic Terror,” but the intent remains the same.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, demand that the Biden administration immediately abolish the 1033 program.
Furthermore, we call on all communities that received tanks, armored personnel carriers, machine guns, grenade launchers, and all other weapons of war through this program to document and return those weapons to federal authorities.
You can sign the petition HERE