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Posts tagged Richland County

No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter… (#6)

Quick quiz. Try to identify where this photograph was taken, and what military force the people pictured in it are members of.

Here is a photograph of several men in dark uniforms with helmets and body armor, in combat posture, with assault rifles pointed directly at the camera. They are posed in front of a large tank. One man is standing in front of the tank, smiling, in a normal suit and tie.

The photograph was taken in Richland County, South Carolina. The people in the photograph are Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and his Special Response Team. They are posed in front of their recently acquired Army-surplus Armored Personnel Carrier, which has a top speed of 30 miles per hour and a turret-mounted .50-caliber belt-fed machine gun. They call it the Peacemaker, apparently because this is exactly the sort of military hardware Jesus would use to terrorize or kill suspected meth addicts.

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.

— Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine (2008-03-06): S.C. Sheriff’s Department Armored Vehicle with Belt-Fed Machine Gun

Take another look at that photograph, and let me know whether that’s what peace looks like to you. Please keep in mind, if you happen to be in Richland County, South Carolina, that, in the view of the Sheriff’s Department, keeping the peace means putting so much firepower in the hands of government police that their capacity for violence terrorizes the rest of the populace out of any thought of defying or resisting their orders.

The Richland County Sheriff’s department got their new armored personnel carrier through a federal government program which provides military surplus weapons to local law enforcement agencies.

As Radley Balko said back in May, in response to another story:

I'm afraid this intermingling of domestic police and military is well beyond the point of no return.

Do you feel safer now?

(Via John Markley 2008-09-04, Radley Balko 2008-09-01, and Pete Guthier 2008-09-01.)

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