There's a reason American cops look like they're on patrol in Fallujah and it's not mere sadism or gearpiggery. Militarizing the cops has a business-model, and it's generated $7.4B for the Beltway Bandits that supply all that gear to law enforcement.


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Two fed programs - 1033 and 1122 - transfer billions in military gear to local law enforcement. 1033 lets cops buy gear at the price that the US military pays, and 1122 allows the military to donate "excess" gear to police departments.

Neither program has even a smidgen of oversight or accountability. And they haven't stopped at turning a nation of Barney Fifes into Judge Dredd cosplayers - they also supply university police departments with everything they need to effect a regional coup.


I'm not saying that white supremacy and racism don't play a part here. They are an essential ingredient in this toxic stew - but they are insufficient unto themselves.

The other part of the story here is the billions in Beltway Bandit profits generated by these programs.

These excess rents are ammo for lobbyists who entice the US military to buy "excess" gear that gets given away to cops, and for sales junkets that entice cops to spend their budgets on gear for themselves.


There's a bright side to this: rooting racism and white supremacy out of the military and local law enforcement is a long, complicated project - but starving the military-industrial complex of money will go a long way to neutralizing their power to convert racism to rifles.

Jamelle Bouie



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