A July Fourth Message from Black America

Given the deeply disturbing incidents happening across the country — including in Des Moines at the Iowa State Capitol last week (check out Jennie Erwin’s livestream) — it should be clear to everyone that police departments across the US are racially biased and have been militarized by the federal government.

Police in riot gear approach peaceful BLM protesters, then pepper spray them (Des Moines, June 22, 2020).

Please take two minutes to watch this short video, sent to me by Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, featuring “Hamilton” star, Daveed Diggs: “What to My People Is the Fourth of July?” If it doesn’t inspire you to action, nothing will.

Daveed Diggs

Even as the momentum for change builds, it’s important to note that most police officers aren’t bad people and that the police serve an important role in our communities. Yet there are more than a few bad apples, and the nature of the job attracts both men and women genuinely concerned about public safety but also those hungry for power — and the gun that comes along with it.

A disturbing example of this is the news story of three veteran Wilmington, North Carolina police officers caught on tape saying incredibly disturbing, racist remarks. (Here’s Chris Hayes’ take on it.)

But of even deeper concern than bad apples is that the federal government has transformed local law enforcement departments into militarized militias. We saw it at Standing Rock, now we’re seeing it with Black Lives Matter.

For a good primer on that, I recommend this November 7, 2011 article in The Atlantic: How the War on Terror Has Militarized the Police. The story points out, “Before 9/11, the usual heavy weaponry available to a small-town police officer consisted of a standard pump-action shot gun, perhaps a high power rifle, and possibly a surplus M-16, which would usually have been kept in the trunk of the supervising officer’s vehicle. Now, police officers routinely walk the beat armed with assault rifles and garbed in black full-battle uniforms.”

On this week’s Fallon Forum, we talk about racism and the militarization of law enforcement. Here’s the complete line-up, and I hope you’ll give our podcast a listen.


Cohosted with Charles Goldman:
(01:40) Local law enforcement is racially biased and has been militarized, with Jennie Erwin;
(19:46) Statues tumble, yet questions remain about what to do with them, with Dr. Stephen Goldman;
(35:37) Conspiracy theorist Jim Fetzer, organizer of the 2020 Question Everything Conference;
(52:03) Plan NOW for a fall garden, with Kathy Byrnes.

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Ed Fallon