While the war in Ukraine rages on and U.S. foreign policy might provoke World War III, most Americans seem oblivious to a clear and present danger—the end of all life on the planet. Nuclear destruction can happen by mistake or design, and no one will survive it. They are also unaware of the threat to our civil liberties at home, as inevitably the war machine brings the war to our cities.
By sending billions of dollars in military equipment ($13.5 billion already with $40 billion more about to be approved by Congress), the United States has entered into a dangerous proxy war. An immediate ceasefire with negotiations now is the only sane solution.
NATO and Ukraine must make concessions, and Russia must stop military action. Compromise is possible but will not occur unless we, the American people, demand that the United States stop arming Ukraine and NATO.
This might not be possible because the massive profits to be made off this war are too great. The military industrial complex is in full control of all elected leaders and the media who cheerlead for all wars. The proposed “defense” department appropriation for 2023 is $813 billion, the largest ever proposed.
With so much money to be made on foreign wars by the military industrial complex corporations, it’s still not enough. Now they want to sell surplus military equipment to your city police department! First, your federal taxes pay for the manufacturing of this equipment, then the war profiteers sell it back to you, as you are paying for it again with your city and county taxes.
At the May 12 Fresno City Council meeting, the Council approved, by unanimous vote, the Military Equipment Funding, Acquisition & Use Policy to comply with the provisions of Government Code § 7071 and the obligations required by California Assembly Bill 481. This policy establishes guidelines for the acquisition, funding, use and reporting of “military equipment.”
State obligations include seeking approval on specific items deemed to be military equipment and requirements related to use, compliance, annual reporting, cataloging and complaints regarding military equipment items.
Military equipment categories include the following:
- Unmanned, remotely piloted, powered aerial or ground vehicles
- Mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles or armored personnel carriers
- High mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), two-and-one-half-ton trucks, five-ton trucks or wheeled vehicles that have a breaching or entry apparatus attached
- Tracked armored vehicles that provide ballistic protection to their occupants
- Command and control vehicles that are either built or modified to facilitate the operational control and direction of public safety units
- Weaponized aircraft, vessels or vehicles of any kind
- Battering rams, slugs and breaching apparatuses that are explosive in nature; does not include a handheld, one-person ram
- Firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or greater, excluding standard-issue shotguns and standard-issue shotgun ammunition
- Specialized firearms and ammunition of less than .50 caliber, including firearms and accessories identified as assault weapons in Penal Code § 30510 and Penal Code § 30515, with the exception of standard-issue handguns
- Any firearm or firearm accessory that is designed to launch explosive projectiles
- Noise-flash diversionary devices and explosive breaching tools
- Munitions containing tear gas or OC (oleoresin capsicum), excluding standard, service-issued handheld pepper spray
- TASER® Shockwave, microwave weapons, water cannons and long-range acoustic devices (LRADs)
- Kinetic energy weapons and munitions
- Any other equipment as determined by a governing body or a state agency to require additional oversight
The policy also states that the acquisition of military equipment and its deployment in our communities could impact the public’s safety and welfare. The public has a right to know about any funding, acquisition or use of military equipment by local government officials, as well as a right to participate in any government agency’s decision to fund, acquire or use such equipment.
Decisions regarding whether and how military equipment that is funded, acquired or used should give strong consideration to the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights and civil liberties, and should be based on meaningful public input. However, the policy on use simply states the following:
The military equipment acquired and authorized by the Department is
a) Necessary because there is no reasonable alternative that can achieve the same objective of officer and civilian safety.
b) Reasonably cost effective compared to available alternatives that can achieve the same objective of officer and civilian safety.
c) [to be used only] by a Department employee only after applicable training, including any course required by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, has been completed, unless exigent circumstances arise.
The use policy, as written, might not meet the requirements set forth by the state. The policy is brief, overly broad and would allow the Fresno Police Department to use these deadly weapons indiscriminately. In addition, the policy is weak on public accountability as it only requires only one public meeting a year and an annual report.
Of course, the big question is, why is the City even considering the use of these deadly weapons? Why is the mayor and the City Council considering the use of “crowd control” weapons?