William Bratton, New York City’s police commissioner, is creating a special unit to deal with counter-terrorism and protests, which he evidently sees as two faces of the same coin. It will be equipped with machine guns.
The NYPD will launch a unit of 350 cops to handle both counter-terrorism and protests — riding vehicles equipped with machine guns and riot gear — under a re-engineering plan to be rolled out over the coming months.
The Strategic Response Group, or SRG, will be devoted to “advanced disorder control and counter-terrorism protection,” responding to the sort of demonstrations that erupted after the Eric Garner grand jury decision and also events like the recent Paris terror attacks.
“It will be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not,” Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday.
“It will be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and the machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.”
via New York Post.
Bratton later issued a clarifying statement that the NYPD does not plan to use machine guns against protesters. That leaves open the question of why a special team with machine guns would be needed in situations such as the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.
I can well imagine machine guns being used against a mass uprising. Maybe I’m being paranoid, probably I am, but the powers-that-be are acting as if they expect a mass American uprising and are acting preemptively to prevent it.
There is historical precedent. Many National Guard units and armories were created in the late 19th century order to be ready for a possible workers’ revolt, and in fact were used against strikers.
Evidently Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to creation of the new unit. Maybe this is a price he thinks he has to pay to stop the police rebellion against his authority.
It is ominous for democracy that the NYPD considers the peaceful, lawful protests that followed the Eric Garner attacks to be in the same category as terrorism. It also is ominous that the NYPD’s obedience to civil authority cannot be taken for granted. I don’t see how anything good can come of this.
NYPD’s Bill Bratton Unveils Plans For New Anti-Terror Police Unit by CBS New York.
NYPD Hyper Militarization Escalates with Bratton’s SRG for Advanced Disorder Control by Rainbow Girl on Corrente.
NYPD: Fine, Maybe We Won’t Police Protests With Machine Guns by Ben Yakas for The Gothamist.