The images of militarized police units organized in platoon formation pepper spraying and beating peaceful demonstrators at UC Davis and at the Occupy encampments across the country have been disturbing to witness, though they provide a potent symbol of the times. While staffed with people from working-class backgrounds, the police in American society have long served as “protectors of privilege,” as Frank Donner put it in a 1990 book, upholding the power of the wealthy 1% by frequently crushing labor protest, spying on and harassing civil rights and antiwar activists, and enforcing the War on Drugs primarily in ghetto communities.
As much as racial profiling and brutality have been deeply rooted in the history of American police institutions, so has their militarization, owing in part to the influence of overseas police training programs.Read the rest here.
Kuzmarov is the author of "The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs" (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009) and the forthcoming, "Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century" (Massachusetts).
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