POLICY PLATFORM: END THE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE

THE DEMILITARIZATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT

Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Defense has transferred over $6 billion in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, including school and campus police, through the Excess Property 1033 Grant program.

THE ISSUE

Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Defense has transferred over $6 billion in military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, including school and campus police, through the Excess Property 1033 Grant program. Military weapons, including tanks and grenade launchers, have disproportionately been deployed by SWAT Teams against Black communities in the “War on Drugs” and suppression of dissent. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has also received at least $39 million in military equipment through the program, deploying military weapons against migrants.

THE DEMAND:

  • We demand an immediate ban on the use of military equipment by law enforcement and Border Patrol in all circumstances.
  • We demand an immediate end to the transfer of military equipment to federal, state, and local police, and campus law enforcement agencies, and an immediate end to the use of military equipment by any law enforcement agency, including Customs and Border Patrol.
  • We demand immediate disclosure of all military equipment transferred and acquired and its intended use by federal, state, and local governments.

KEY FEDERAL LEGISLATION

  • H.R.7143 (To repeal the military surplus program) 
  • Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act


THE PROBLEM

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has transferred over $6 billion in military grade equipment to local police departments across the country, including campus and school police, under the Excess Property 1033 Grant program. The program, which emerged in the heyday of the the “War on Drugs,” facilitated highly militarized “SWAT” team raids of homes, businesses, and communities. Transferred equipment ranges from desks and office supplies to grenade launchers and 19-ton mine resistant armored trucks. Mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles make up almost a third of the dollar value of equipment transferred to local departments. To date, approximately 8,000 departments have obtained equipment through this program.

Nearly 100 college police departments have acquired military equipment through the program, including assault rifles, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers. At least 26 school districts have received military grade equipment from the 1033 program, including MRAP vehicles, M16 rifles, military gear, and grenade launchers. Police stationed in medical facilities, including hospitals, are increasingly requesting military grade equipment, citing fears of active shooter situations. Immigration enforcement agencies are also eligible for transfer of military grade weapons, and the Department of Homeland security has transferred military weapons to agencies operating on the southern U.S. border.

Customs and Border Protection received $39 million worth of tactical equipment between 1991 and 2014, including 17 cargo planes, 10 helicopters, and 10 bomb robots.

Military grade equipment continues to be deployed against Black people and communities, including armored vehicles, tear gas, flash bang grenades, and rubber bullets deployed during the 2020 uprisings and the Ferguson Uprising, and unmanned robots deployed against Black people, including a man accused of killing police officers in Dallas.

There is little transparency regarding which police departments and campuses receive military equipment under the program, and even less public information about the reasons police and campus safety departments gave for requesting such equipment or the circumstances under which they plan to use it.

Studies show that militarized policing does not increase community safety, targets Black communities, and places communities in fear and at risk. In fact, one study found that more militarized departments had higher likelihood of police shootings.

THE DEMAND

THE DEMAND

We Demand

  • An immediate end to transfer of military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies, campus and school police, and medical facilities.
  • Full public disclosure around the flow of military equipment to federal, state, and local police departments.
  • Accountability for law enforcement agencies which deploy military weapons against Black people and communities.

HOW DOES THIS SOLUTION ADDRESS THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF SOME OF THE MOST MARGINALIZED BLACK PEOPLE?

Military weapons are disproportionately deployed in working class, low- and no-income Black communities like Ferguson, Missouri, against people involved in the drug and sex trades, and against migrants at the southern U.S. border.

ACTIONS

ACTIONS

FEDERAL ACTION

  • Pass H.R.7143 – To repeal the military surplus program 
  • End the Department of Defense 1033 Program
  • Pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act that would place restrictions and transparency measures on the transfer of excess military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies
  • Prohibit local law enforcement agencies, ICE, and Customs and Border Patrol agents from using military equipment, including on unarmed undocumented immigrants and to police the U.S.-Mexico border.

State Action

Local Action

Municipalities, colleges and universities, school districts, and health care facilities must:

  • Ban the use of military equipment by law enforcement agencies operating in the jurisdiction and place an immediate moratorium on acquisition of new equipment through the 1033 program.
  • Publish a list of equipment acquired by state and local agencies through the 1033 program.

Model Legislation

Proposed legislation in New Hampshire would prohibit the acquisition of new military grade equipment not available on the open market. The bill does not institute a complete ban on acquisition of military grade equipment and does not call for restricting the use of previously purchased military grade equipment.

Organizations currently working on policy

Related Briefs

DOWNLOADABLES


JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Stay informed about our upcoming virtual events.

By submitting your cell phone number, you are signing up for mobile alerts from Movement for Black Lives. Message and data rates may apply, and you can unsubscribe at any time.