In the USA, there are reports of police using tear gas, flashbangs, and many other weapons to fight against the riots which are occurring now in over 350 cities against police brutality against the Black Community. There have been many reports on how the police brutality is disproportionate in terms of race; the Black people are thrice as likely to have violence committed on them by the police force than the whites, and the factor is 1.5 for the Hispanics. There is a first-hand account of a person present in the recent protests who talks about the use of batons on demonstrators.
This, however, leads to the question whether it was the militarization of the police force that caused violence towards minority communities. The police militarization was, in the aftermath of the 9/11 US terrorist attack, justified by the policymakers as a necessary tool to prevent the terrorist attacks in the future. This policy decision led to the military grade weapons and military style training regime for the police force. Some of the states in the US partnered with highly militarized police of Israel for training their police force. Such lethal weapons which were provided to the police force used against terrorists were gradually used by the police force against common civilians on suspicion of minor crimes and the group of protestors.
The civil right groups were voicing concerns for many years about the use of disproportionate force on the Black and Hispanic Americans, which they blamed on the arming of police with lethal weapons. It was the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, who was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2014, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Montana, USA that galvanised the public to demand for demilitarization of police force. As a response to public anger against the killing of Michael Brown, President Obama set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This task force, in its report put special emphasis on de-escalating situations, with civilians in training and policies, and reduced funding by the Department of Homeland Security for such weapons. However these recommendations failed to have much effect on solving the issues at hand.
The continued use of such lethal weapons casts the police force as a separate, powerful entity which is to be feared, instead of a friendly cop who is trying to provide security to a citizen in distress. Such equipment serves to distance the police from the people, giving them power, and if left unchecked, entitlement over the rest of the citizens. In many instances the presence of a weapon itself leads to more aggressive behaviour and there have been calls to make the police wear body cams to restrain them from acting with disproportionate lethal force.
The racial profiling and discriminatory actions against the black and other communities that was already practiced by the police forces was now being enforced by more lethal power in the force’s hands. A study by Olugbenga Ajilore shows that counties with more race segregation were more likely to request additional weapons, and counties with an African American/Asian American population are more likely to acquire military equipment. Another report of 2017 shows a direct correlation between the degree of police militarization and the killing of civilians in police action.
It can be reasonably said that the militarization, in some sense, inflated the already existing racial profiling based violent actions of police force.