Posts Tagged ‘New York Police Department’

The new normal: NYPD with machine guns

February 18, 2015

Tom Englehardt raises the question: Just when did it become an accepted thing for the New York Police Department to be armed with machine guns?

blog-policetank-500x280The response to this question is a great example of the fallacy of the political moderate.

One extreme position is that the NYPD’s new Special Response Group should bring machine guns to peaceful protests in case they get out of hand.  The other extreme position is that a municipal police department doesn’t need machine guns at all.

The middle position is that police departments need machine guns, but they shouldn’t use them unless it is really, really necessary.   Which means at some point, they will be used.

The use of lethal force by police has become all too routine.  But I recognize that, in a country where the right to carry firearms in public is a constitutional right and where some criminal gangs have military-grade weapons, police need to have guns and need to know how to use them.

But machine guns?  It’s as if somebody is in fear of a revolutionary uprising.

NYPD forms new unit for protesters, terrorists

February 1, 2015

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.

Commissioner William Bratton

William Bratton

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.