We’ve gotten a taste of what police militarization looks like—in cases like the events following police killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. Barbara Lott-Holland, associate director at the Labor Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, worries that these confrontations will only intensify as the threat of climate change grows.
People were fighting for basic human rights in Ferguson and Baltimore, she says, and responses will be much more violent when protesters demand access to fundamental needs like water and food.
Her solution? Abolish the program that supplies many of these weapons.
The Department of Defense 1033 Program provides law enforcement agencies equipment for police militarization.
That’s one of the strategy center’s four demands that Lott-Holland brings with her to the U.N. climate talks in Paris. The Department of Defense’s 1033 Program provides law enforcement agencies equipment for police militarization, such as aircraft, armored vehicles, and body armor. About 8,000 local law enforcement agencies have used the 1033 Program, but Lott-Holland’s efforts focus on Los Angeles.
Last year, LA school police returned grenade launchers to the DOD after pressure from education and civil rights groups, including the Labor Community Strategy Center. The groups are especially concerned about safety for children of color. The school police ultimately kept 61 rifles, but how officials plan to use these weapons is still unclear, Lott-Holland says.
“The responsible thing for them to do is to destroy the weapons,” Lott-Holland said, later adding, “We should have never had them in the first place.”