Al-Jazeera on the Militarization of North American Police

From a worthwhile to read, and quite frightening article from Al-Jazeera

And that’s the most prosaic of the new policing toys that are becoming available. Reporter Ando Arick analysed the new generation of weaponry in an article in Harper’s called “The Soft-Kill Solution – New Frontiers In Pain Compliance“. He recounts a 60 Minutes investigation into a new weapon to be used for what the military said was “crowd control in Iraq”.

Yet in military exercises in Georgia, soldiers were dressed as protesters, carrying signs that say “world peace”, “love for all” and “peace not war” for some reason. In what was presented as a choice between backing off and shooting into the crowd, the audience was then shown that a “ray gun” was on top of the Humvee.

“An operator squeezes off a blast. The first shot hits them like an invisible punch. The protesters regroup, and he fires again, and again. Finally they’ve had enough. The ray gun drives them away with no harm done.”

Except for the repeated “invisible punches”, of course. But like the Taser, the whole point of this “pain compliance” is to inflict short-term physical agony on human beings to “induce behavioural modification”.

They have developed plans for a flying drone that fires stun darts at suspects, a “Shockwave Area-Denial System”, which blankets the area in question with electrified darts, and a wireless Taser projectile with a 100-metre range, helpful for picking off “ringleaders” in unruly crowds.

Would the public balk? Probably not. After all, they’ve accepted the Taser to such an extent that it’s now a staple of movie comedies and viral YouTube videos. The ground has been well-prepared. And after all, just as the government has expanded its police powers and built up its arsenal of “pain compliance” weaponry, the broader culture was lifting the centuries-old taboo against torture.

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