The Broken Rifle

Four police officers wearing balaclavas and pointing in several directions with their machine guns creep round the edge of a building
Issue number
Police militarisation

In recent years, organisations affiliated to War Resisters’ International have observed a growing militarisation of policing in their home countries with internal security forces beginning to look and act ever more like domestic armies. It is increasingly clear that a shift towards militarised policing is taking place across each and every continent. The idea to create an online resource on the militarisation of policing was born from a desire to join the dots between what is happening in individual countries and paint a clearer picture of the wider global trend. This issue of The Broken Rifle is part of this project.

Our new police militarisation resource is now available online at: It can be used to explore the militarisation of policing by country and by topic with links to articles that examine cross-cutting issues in greater depth. The aim of the resource is to illustrate how the militarisation of police forces around the world is happening, how it is rooted in deeper structural violence and to bring to the fore stories of resistance from communities across the globe. It is hoped that it will act as a networking and solidarity tool for those already experiencing the impact of militarised policing.

We hope that this will be a resource that continues to expand and grow so if you have information or ideas that you would like to share, please get in touch at

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The Broken Rifle #10811.48 MB

The visible face of police militarisation is the use of militarised equipment and body armour; of sniper rifles and tanks facing down protesters in Ferguson, United States, and of heavily armoured vehicles patrolling the streets of the favelas of Rio de Janiero. But such conspicuous militarisation is merely a symptom – an end-product – of a militarised mindset that sees those being policed not as members of a community in need of protection but as a threat.

The collective struggle that we are engaged in Rio intends to bring to surface the other side of the favelas. It shows people how the state threatens our culture and our lives. In 2014 and 2015, the armed forces occupied Maré.

The Casspir Project

A largely undecorated Casspir stands in a warehouse with brick walls and a concrete floor.  The khaki paintwork of the Casspir is interrupted by bright, multicoloured beading on the window frames and grille.  An artist in overalls is working on the beading on the grille and near the back wheel there is a platform ladder.

The central element of the project is one of reclamation: a restored and refitted Casspir vehicle, its surfaces covered in elaborate, brightly-coloured panels of glass beadwork arrayed in traditional patterns and completed by artisans from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa including women of the Ndebele tribe, known for their craftmanship.

In Buenaventura, right now, the way they are reacting to social protest is not just with the police. But also, according to the city's social movements, the Marine Corps, the navy and other special groups have also taken part.

The outright militarization of the security apparatus has infected more and more sectors of Bahraini society. In fact, it’s now been written into the country’s constitution itself.

Kenya’s police service is currently going through a reform based on recommendations made by the National Task Force on Police Reforms.

When young college students in Seoul went out to march through the streets calling for Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in a long streak of demonstrations that started last October, it wasn’t difficult to bump into an acquaintance blocking you — dressed in a navy military drab armed with combat gear.

There has been a recent intensification of raids in Mapuche communities, with children and adults injured, the increase in policing in the zone and its “militarisation”.

In 1967, Los Angeles Police Department Inspector Daryl Gates came up with the concept of SWAT based on his experience policing Black uprisings such as the Watts Riots. The War on Drugs saw higher rates of lethal force as the government transferred military equipment to police departments—a transfer that was motivated out of the government’s fear of Black liberation and antiwar movements.

My name is Jamal Juma', I am the coordinator of the Palestinian grassroots movement against the wall and settlements, which is ghettoising and limiting the population in very limited areas surrounded by walls nine metres high, with all the surveillance and cameras and watch-towers and machine guns that have been fixed there, and military guards that are patrolling the area.

The Fourth World War

A woman drinks a cup of tea amid a destroyed building. The photo is black and white.

Militarism is much more than military institutions or people in uniform. The military sphere has to do with the lifestyles that people adopt, their way of seeing the world, of understanding social relationships or how effective a society can be.

After the military coup that ended the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in February 1989, Paraguay went through a period of social and institutional demilitarisation. This process began early in the last decade of the last century and accelerated towards the end of that decade and the start of the next, its pace set by the national political context.

In the forthcoming edition of The Broken Rifle, we want to go back to the foundations of why pacifists consider war to be a crime against humanity, and are striving for the transformation of militarised societies. Could you contribute to it?