Those War-Ready Cops in Ferguson Are 9/11’s Awful Legacy—and Your Taxes Are Paying for It
By Alec MacGillis
Aug. 14, 2014
First came the police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager on the way back from the convenience store with a friend. Then came the protests and looting. Then came the astonishing police response, which by Wednesday night transformed the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, an inner suburb of St. Louis, into a scene out of Cairo, Kiev, or Tehran. Which has led appalled onlookers to ask: Who has been outfitting local police departments to look like battle-hardened military units?
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the American taxpayer has been providing the funding for an eye-popping influx of money from the Department of Homeland Security to state and local law enforcement agencies. The funding is all in the name of preventing “terrorism,” but funds are fungible, and so are heavily-armored vehicles and high-powered weaponry. As the Missouri Department of Homeland Security explains on its own website advertising one of the federal DHS grants it distributes to local agencies: “Activities implemented under [the State Homeland Security Program] must support terrorism preparedness by building or enhancing capabilities that relate to the prevention of, protection from, or response to, and recovery from terrorism in order to be considered eligible. However, many capabilities which support terrorism preparedness simultaneously support preparedness for other hazards.” [Emphasis mine.]