Protesters of the police killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this week have been met with a heavily militarized police response, which the Pentagon has now confirmed was made possible in part by its donation of two tactical vehicles, a trailer, and a generator to the Ferguson police.
The equipment — which may represent one of several such transfers — was assigned via a federal program through which hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment is given annually to local police departments. This equipment includes everything from side arms to armored vehicles resembling tanks which are more typically used in war zones.
Civil libertarian critics have suggested that bulking up police equipment can itself lead to increased police brutality. "Give a man access to drones, tanks, and body armor, and he'll reasonably think that his job isn't simply to maintain peace, but to eradicate danger," writes Greg Howard for The Concourse. "Instead of protecting and serving, police are searching and destroying."