United States of America

A crowd marches down a tree-lined avenue holding colourful banners and flags.  The yellow banner at the forefront of the picture reads 'Stop Urban Shield: End Police War on Our Communities'.
A protest march against the Urban Shield weapons and police training expo

Police militarisation in the United States cannot be separated from the everyday brutality of beat cops in neighbourhoods across the country who are regularly and disproportionately harming and violating communities of colour with impunity. Police departments uphold the injustices embedded within the racist fabric of US society, for example, a Black person is killed by someone employed or protected by the police every 28 hours; trans and gender non-conforming people are far more likely to experience police violence than others; and, entire units of police departments are devoted to surveillance of Muslim people. These injustices depend on a climate of fear, where emergencies are always imminent – caused by anti-Black, anti-migrant, and anti-Muslim racism, compulsory gender normativity, criminalization and political reaction to freedom struggles - and the response must include SWAT tanks, tear gas and assault rifles.

While police militarisation as an industry and a practice of merging US domestic policing with the internationalised US military industrial complex has been in effect for decades (and some will argue that because the history of police in the US were created to “catch” escaped enslaved people, they were always an army), the phenomenon of police militarization as part of the war on terror is a fairly new industry & phenomenon. According to Professor Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies there were 50,000 SWAT raids in 2015; SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactic) teams are dressed in military gear and weapons, assault a home and forcefully enter, often throwing grenades first - this estimates to be 137 raids a day nationally. As the number of SWAT teams has grown nationwide, so have the raids.

Police militarisation is a process that is directly funded from the federal government and military departments. For example, the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)--a federal grant program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of almost $600 million, administers funding to cities around the US for trainings and weapons expos (such as Urban Shield), but also for police departments to obtain war toys, such as Chicago’s surveillance cameras , BearCat tanks in Fargo, ND and Keene, NH and Long Beach’s armored cars .