Quick quiz. Try to identify where this photograph was taken, and what military force the people pictured in it are members of.
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, namedThe 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.
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?
- GT 2008-08-22: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter… (#5)
- GT 2008-07-12: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter... (#4)
- GT 2008-06-05: Neighborhood Safety Ghettoes in D.C.
- GT 2008-05-15: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter... (#3)
- GT 2008-05-12: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter... (#2)
- GT 2008-05-06: No, seriously, I could swear the water in this pot is getting a little hotter...
- GT 2008-04-28: Is it just me or is the water in this pot getting a little hotter?