Interestingly, if you are beginning to see traces of such a war-zone-like atmosphere in your neighborhood, or at your next peaceful protest, you might want to know you are not alone. The notion of overly militarized police forces has gotten the attention of mainstream law and journalism institutions.
In a feature article in a recent edition of the ABA (American Bar Association) Journal, "How did America's police become a military force on the street?," the author examines the phenomenon (and problems with) militarized police forces all the way from the framing of the Constitution up and through the modern day war on drugs and war on terror.
According to the article, militarized police forces are outfitted with the latest in tanks, helicopters and military-grade weapons. They are trained by Navy SEALs and other military special forces veterans and, apparently, "Today in America SWAT teams violently smash into private homes more than 100 times per day."
The ABA article is not the first to weigh in on the subject of militarized police forces and all that it may indicate, like pepper spray police brutality against nonviolent protesters. The militarization of police is a reaction to increasing economic inequality and the social discontent it brings with it, according to a 2010 Harpers Magazine article, "The Soft-Kill Solution: New Frontiers in Pain Compliance" by Ando Arike.
The article looked at the intersection between "less-lethal" weapons and militarized police forces and described an "international arms-development effort involving an astonishing range of technologies: electrical weapons that shock and stun; laser weapons that cause dizziness or temporary blindness; acoustic weapons that deafen and nauseate; chemical weapons that irritate, incapacitate, or sedate; projectile weapons that knock down, bruise, and disable; and an assortment of nets, foams, and sprays that obstruct or immobilize."
"The weapons are intended primarily for use against unarmed or primitively armed civilians; they are designed to control crowds, clear buildings and streets, subdue and restrain individuals, and secure borders," Ando Arike writes. "The result is what appears to be the first arms race in which the opponent is the general population."
But citizens still have rights protected by laws and courtrooms, even as they become increasingly vulnerable to militarized police forces while out on the street, especially when engaging in protesting. The pepper spray police brutality victims who were outrageously subjected to pepper spray police brutality while engaging in a peaceful and nonviolent Occupy protest in Davis, California, settled their case for one million dollars. The City of Oakland recently agreed to a similar settlement for Occupy protesters injured by militarized police forces.