It’s .50 Caliber, but It’s Not a Killing Machine. Honest.


Pop quiz time. This is a photo of:

A. A new U.S. Army Special Forces Unit

B. A mercenary group for hire

C. The Richland County, SC Sheriff’s Department’s shiny new toy

Tell me just what the fuck cops need with armored personnel carriers. Especially after their behavior in Minnesota, which we’ll be exploring in depth here within the next day or so, once the apoplexy’s managable.

This is just insane:

Radley Balko notes another community that has gone ultra-militarized (and, as he says, “Who wants to set an over under on the first time they use this thing to bust a pot dealer?”)

Police Mag (March, 2008)

The Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff’s Department has acquired an armored personnel carrier complete with a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun for its Special Response Team.

Sheriff Leon Lott told the Columbia State newspaper that he hoped the vehicle, named “The Peacemaker,” would let the bad guys know that his officers are serious.

“We don’t look at this as a killing machine,” Lott told the paper. “It’s going to keep the peace. We hope the fact that we have this is going to save lives. When something like this rolls up, it’s time to give up.”

“Letting the bad guys know you’re serious” is not a good answer to “What the fuck do you need with an APC?”

You only use “a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun” for one thing – killing as many people as you can. It’s not meant to keep the peace. It’s meant to destroy enemy soldiers. That’s what enormous fucking machine guns are for.

They are not for police agencies, which are ostensibly tasked with saving lives rather than spraying indiscriminate death down upon the nation’s citizenry. Although, after the last week, I’m not too sure about law enforcement’s role as the thin blue line anymore. “Jack-booted thugs” seems more accurate.

Eight years ago, I loved and trusted this nation’s peace officers. A few bad apples occasionally gave the whole barrel a bad taste, and a few agencies needed their corrupt asses kicked, but on the whole, I knew they were there to serve and protect.

Does that motherfucking tank look like a peace officer’s weapon to you?

Do the mass arrests, the torture, the brutality, the spying, and the thuggery in St. Paul remind you more of America or the Iron Curtain?

How long do you think it’ll be before America has its own Tienanmen Square? How long before a protester gets run down by some macho wanna-be Rambo in a policeman’s uniform and an APC?

But no, this is America.

We always do the world one better.

Fuck running down a single individual. There’s a gargantuan gun mounted on that baby – fire it up. Spray hot lead all over those vegans and those flower-children. Show ‘em who’s boss.

This country is on an extremely dangerous trajectory. Just imagine what would have happened if one of these APCs had been present at Kent State. In Denver. In St. Paul.

The restraints of democracy and decency that used to at least somewhat protect this country from excesses of police brutality have been removed. The Constitutional protections that kept us from becoming another Myanmar, Tibet, Russia, El Salvador, a hundred others, aren’t simply being eroded – they’re being blasted away. Bush removed the torture taboo, started playing dictator, and it’s all the signal others needed to start playing right along with him. After all, if the President can do it, why not the local police department? It’s not wrong. It’s not illegal. The White House attorneys said so.

And here we see the real reason for the neocons’ hatred of communist regimes: it wasn’t moral outrage, it was jealousy. Why else leap so quickly to demolish the freedoms they pay lip service to? That kind of power over the mind and body of their citizens was something they could only dream of – before Bush started making their dream a reality.

We’re sliding into totalitarianism. It’s time to stop the slide. Don’t let the people you love vote their own freedoms away.


(Tip o’ the shot glass to Ed Brayton)