A political commentator says that the ongoing militarization of American police forces is increasingly harming the US citizens.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Michael Burns – political, military and economic analyst from New York to further talks over the issue.
The following is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Let’s look at the situation with this violent crackdown – Do you think that what we have witnessed over the last ten years after 9/11 reflects more about militarization of the police departments in the US. Changes in policy have been set up to allow police to supposedly fight terrorists, but this seems to be leading to a violent perspective by them – How do you see it?
Michael Burns: There’s no question about that. After 9/11 a series of laws were passed, the Patriot Act being the most notorious. But in addition to laws there were several judicial rulings and administrative policies put into place permitting draconian severe law enforcement without normal due process.
And the reason of course was to address the great fear of terrorism and to nip it in the bud if you will. So to some degree our constitution has been shredded by these laws and policies.
And as a derivative result of this broad-based change in the way we operate our country – in the way the US operates its policy apparatus, the policy tools in the hands of the police have become more and more and more powerful.
Now you have a situation where the Occupy Wall Street crowd has determined that they can have a permanent place within the boundaries of major cities.
However, the citizens as well as the governing groups such as the Mayor and the City Council are just fatigued with this – they create a number of problems, which the cities are not designed to address. The permanent ‘camping out’ in Zuccotti Park is one example as well as trying to tie up the shipping in Oakland and so forth.
The police have in their hands tremendous power and they’re using it. And I think the citizens are a little shocked – they didn’t realize that these laws – The Patriot Act being an example, which was by the way supported and re-signed by President Obama our great hero – The Citizens didn’t realize that these are serious tools in the hands of the police when it finally gets down to that level.
So… I think the citizens are surprised, not outraged, just surprised.
Press TV: You say that the people were not chocked but surprised. Of those that did not have any direct conflict with the police up until this time, it was mentioned by our previous guest if they were not in the more violent communities or communities that normally see a very high and violent police presence; it can also be quite shocking for them.
Now, as these scenes are being shown – videos are being taken, pictures are instantaneously sent across the world – I want to talk about the effect this has on actually bringing out more people in the US in support of this movement.
Michael Burns: I don’t think it’s going to have much of an affect. A lot of the media coverage is sort of reading from a common choir book by those who enjoy singing and reading from the choir books. This is not really leaking out into the broad-based population.
While people are saying the police play rough; they’re not willing to go down and engage the situation because they don’t have a dog in the fight yet. And what the citizen means by not having a dog in the fight is that he doesn’t know what to do about the 99 percent Vs the one percent.
The government is in the hands of the bankers and the one percent – the election is coming up – issues are yet to be put on the table – the issue of fairness, it might come up as the months go on, but right now it’s not on the table so the average citizen is saying to himself that we don’t have a fight here; we don’t have an issue.
To the degree that this frustrates the Occupy Wall Street crowd I can understand that, but I must add with emphasis that a lot of the media comes through You Tube and I-pod cameras and they raise the temperature among the people who believe in this; but it is really not bothering most of the citizens who are more interested in getting a deal on black Friday for a TV set or an I-pad or something
Press TV: … You mentioned the upcoming election. Newt Gingrich the Republican candidate has in Iowa talked about the Occupy movement and basically said that what they need to do is take a bath and get a job. Why wouldn’t the average American be outraged by such a statement?
Michael Burns: Because (laugh) it appeals to the average American. It looks like those people down there could use a shower. As far as ‘go get a job’ – that was a little callous – I think what he was saying with that comment about go get a job was that the country needs to put into effect, policies to increase jobs…