By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, June 28, 2020
The City of Charlottesville is dragging up the rear in the current winds of change, is stalling on moving its war monuments, is failing to move on divesting its retirement fund from weapons and fossil fuels, and is tip-toeing around prevaricating Chief of Police Dr. RaShall M. Brackney.
The Chief of Police has told the City Council that state police did not use city vehicles recently, but reversed that claim upon photographs being produced. She has claimed not to have a mine resistant vehicle or anything like that or any military weaponry, later admitting to having an armored personnel carrier — possibly this one that I photographed and published this picture of in January 2017.
Nearly 800 people have now signed a petition in Charlottesville, Va.
Almost all of the signers are from Charlottesville.
The petition is addressed to the Charlottesville City Council and reads:
We urge you to ban from Charlottesville:
(1) military-style or “warrior” training of police by the U.S. military, any foreign military or police, or any private company,
(2) acquisition by police of any weaponry from the U.S. military;
and to require enhanced training and stronger policies for conflict de-escalation, and limited use of force for law enforcement.
Were Charlottesville’s City Council dealing with an open and forthcoming Chief of Police who persuasively claimed to be adhering to all of these policies at present, the need to put them into legally binding form going forward would remain. In the current situation, that need is all the more pressing, and the language needs to be more detailed. For example, we need to ban the acquisition of military weaponry from any source, and probably to specify what constitutes military weaponry. We probably also need to ban the use of such weaponry even when somehow not legally “acquiring” it.
Seattle’s City Council has recently passed a ban against police use or purchase of chemical weapons, kinetic impact projectiles, acoustic weapons, directed energy weapons, water cannons, disorientation devices, and ultrasonic cannons. There is no excuse for Charlottesville’s City Council defering to police on whether such outrageous weaponry is “strategically significant” or “tactically necessary” or any such wartalk doublespeak. In a representative government it is not up to an armed, militarized force to dictate terms to a government, which in turn informs the public of what is reasonable. In a representative government it is up to the public to tell the government what’s needed — a government which can then inform its staff what is required of them. Hundreds of Charlottesvillians are attempting to do just that.
Here are some of the comments people have added when they have signed the petition:
End police violence NOW!
We need to be coming together instead of pointing war weapons at each other. The power of listening, understanding, compassion and teamwork was NEVER more important than right now.
Militarized anything is the beginning of the End of our Republic! The very word “Military” is a term of either enlisted or drafted men and women OR professional military i.e. West Point, Annapolis, etc. that are specifically trained for Wars. Keep that in mind & then imagine people in uniform w/weapons marching on our streets, paths, lanes, etc in full battle gear! Got it? Keep looking at that and then Feel the FEELINGS that come w/that picture as you keep making it more real – the sounds of gunfire & ? small bombs?, flamethrowers, tear gas, REALLY? Can you Really get into that scenario and feel SAFER and OKAY with that on ANY of our American streets in ANY of our Cities and States? Because if you CAN truly imagine that, you are no longer looking at or Living in America, Land of the Free & Home of the Brave! We’ve heard of Police States, but America MILITARIZED? I suggest every one who thinks this a terrific idea Read the United States Constitution written by men who had ESCAPED such conditions in their former countries! and then remember while Reading it, that’s why the Founders wrote such a glorious Document, and THIS idea is EXACTLY why the Constitution was Written and Very Specific to which was added our Bill of Rights! 21 Centuries and there are those who want to go backwards in time to oppression, suppression, and the apparently still popular Aggression! INSANITY! ,MADNESS! There’s an element in our culture right now that is whittling away at our Freedoms and Rights rather than fighting to uphold them. History has proven that it’s a Whole lot easier to hang on to one’s Freedoms and Rights than to EVER recover them once lost!
I join in with many Black leaders in this community to call for a demilitarization of our police force and the defunding of resources that should be better spent on other public services.
Militarized police encourages brutality and excessive force. We need to go the other way.
Demilitarized police is essential for a peaceful community. Citizens are not enemy-combatants. Police have a difficult job, dealing with crises, violence, and dishonesty. However most people are peaceful and honest. Police need support to maintain calm judgement, to not become jaded. Upping the military equipment etc increases the sense that the people they serve and protect are not citizens like them, rather enemies.
I am an alum of UVA. I come to UVA with alums who are now lifetime friends – Mike and Ruth Brannon. In fact, I am sitting at my desk, with a beautiful jacket that I bought in the outdoor mall last year – at 100000 villages shop. I don’t want to see heavily militarized police when I’m there, it makes me unsettled and I remember that my husband and went there and is passed, Dennis Murphy, was a conscientious objector and worked at UVA hospital as an orderly. It is in his name, that I write to you to have a peaceful town without a highly militarized police force that has gone through a military ‘warrior’ training.
No militarization of the police force in Charlottesville! Can we not train our police force to befriend neighborhood leaders and citizens so that we are all working together to solve our societal issues. This has to evolve and happen on the local( Charlottesville) level.
Instead, partner with the community and community professionals to address human problems humanely for the safety of everyone.
I support reallocation of funds from the police to other community services to cut down on the people being locked up. I think these people should be assisted in other ways like mental health, housing, job services and many other avenues that lessen the amount of people in jail and committing crimes.
This is a good start.
it is time to demilitarize police departments
Let’s fight systemic racism and a build caring community filled with services that support our citizens. Police brutality and excessive force is the gateway to our current criminal injustice system.
Militarized policing is not needed or welcomed in Charlottesville
We need a 21st century police presence that is thoughtfully reformed to better serve and protect our diverse community. To me this means moving away from arbitrary and questionable use of violence, restructuring the appropriate roles and responsibilities of a police presence, and respecting peaceful demonstrations. I see this petition as an important first step in redesigning policing to meet our community’s needs and not abuse their rights. It is time for solutions, not procrastination.
As long as its done equitably and peacefully!
Continuing to pit police and the civilians they are intended to serve and protect against one another will be a horrifying and counterproductive reality, and the only outcome that will result with increasingly militarized police training, weapons, and programs. The system needs to change – both to foster safe, effective, and just career opportunities for police as well as promote safe and just communities in which all people are free to peacefully engage in the processes that impact them, without fear of violent and/or discriminatory reprisal. As a native Virginian who calls the area in and around Charlottesville home, let us be a courageous beacon of hope to the rest of the nation that positive change is possible.
I am not a resident, but I am a teacher in the city.
In June of 2017, I attended a peaceful protest against the KKK. I was playing a tambourine in an alley with some other protesters who were waving flags and playing musical instruments. For no apparent reason, the state police stormed the alley in battle fatigues with an armored vehicle and assault rifles trained on us. They threw me physically out of the way into the side of a vehicle. No orders were issued before or after, and after a while they left the alley without explanation. Later that day I was pepper sprayed by cops on High Street. Why?
If the CPD thinks it needs “tactical” equipment, let it be in pastel colors – you need it, fine, but not to intimidate the population with a stormtrooper aesthetic.
This is Important….
Thanks for getting this going
We should defund the police and invest in community and education. But, if we must have them, they should not be trained and armed as warriors.
Please Vote to demilitarize our police force. The money to fund this is much better spent on social systems that actually help people like schools!
family home town
Our priorities as a nation are completely wrong. We need to create policing that truly protects and serves everyone. A good, minimal step is to take concrete actions to prevent a militarized police force. Police equipped like warriors treat citizens like enemy combatants. That doesn’t make our town safer. We can do better.
It is entirely inappropriate for a police department to handle weapons and technology meant for war when protecting civilian lives
“Please! I am an Educator of youth, our legacy to the future is to ensure that ALL are treated equal, deserve equal representation, and never use force. Communication is key! No weapons for our future. DEFUND militarization of our police, bring in community leaders instead.
Dismantling the police state is essential for the survival of democracy. The attacks on peaceful demonstrations and the infiltration of groups dedicated to peace and racial equality must be halted.
This WILL NEVER stand to have militarization of cops in OUR community.
Demilitarizing the police is a priority. As is changing police focus to a more community oriented and supportive role.
There is evidence that removing military-style-uniformed people from large gatherings reduces tension and contributes to a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere.
Dear Council Members. … Although not a Charlottesville (CHO) resident I am a UVA graduate and live near CHO. I spend lots of time in CHO having friends and relatives there. More so than elsewhere I frequent CHO’s restaurants and entertainment venues more so that elsewhere. I shop there frequently. … Accordingly, I feel I have a vested in CHO and matters that may affect me while in CHO. Police activity is certainly one of those. … Thank you … Dr. Brad Roof
We must do better!
This is disgustingly anti-american! We have no use for large-scale action against protesters or groups. Kent state all over again!
I believe it is very distressing to see police dressed in military gear, because it conotes aggression instead of protection. The image is immediate and, rather than descalting a situation, it can have the opposite affect, inciting it further.
I did not understand police inaction on the night if August 11, 2017 nor at the rally the following day. Why didn’t they police the Market Street garage, for example, after sending the protesters home? Police were all standing just outside the entrance while DeAndre Harris was being beaten by four White Supremacists, a few yards away. To my mind, the police did not do their job. An angry mob was set loose, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer and serious injury to many others.
Demilitarized the police everywhere!
In the absence of defunding/abolition, this is a good start. Thanks
When police show up,in military gear, it is threatening to all citizens and very likely to provoke a fight response. That response has proven to be necessary and appropriate in too many instances. How about the police concentrate on de escalating and keeping the peace..
Studies have shown that when police departments have storehouses of military grade weapons, they use them. Let’s invest in our communities prospering – through health care, nutrition, education, vocational training. Let’s create opportunity instead of antagonism.
We do not feel protected with over policing. We never did. I did not feel protected when there were snipers on the roofs of the downtown mall on the A12 anniversary – especially since we watched them watch passively as violent white supremacists threatened us. It scares me when I think of local officers being equipped with military style anything. Please ban these things for the safety of our community.
Examine the budget, examine the inventory. Have an independent evaluator do the inventory.
Give back to the military weapons that are military grade.
Also I believe we need to add more facilities for addiction and mental health services.
Demilitarize the police!
The militarized policing did us a lot of good in Aug 2017 (not). Stay out of our town. Instead, please bring in negotiators, mediators and people trained in restorative practices.
The purpose of military equipment is to kill. It is to be used in wartime, not against our own citizens. Get all military equipment out of the hands of US law enforcement personnel.
We already saw militarized policing on August 11/12 2017 and even more so on the first anniversary. We need to ban it.
This ‘warrior’ mentality is what informs the training. A police officer is responding to orders with certain training. For those orders to be effective, the trained officer needs to accept a premise concerning citizens, namely, we are each one of us a potential enemy/felon. Racial profiling is ‘baked into’ the training by who is training, and who is recruited. A warrior mentality appeals to personalities who can easily imagine a neighbor/citizen is the problem rather than asking what is the problem. Pax, J Ballenger
Hunter Peace Group members believe that the police in your City and all other cities and town should be given enhanced training and stronger policies for conflict de-escalation should be introduced as a matter of urgency. It seems somewhat incredulous that in this day and age there is not a much less violent way of bringing conflicts to an end. Firearms should not be used..
Substantially restrict or eliminate the use of projectiles of any kind (rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, gas rounds, flash-bang rounds) or chemical/biological weapons (tear gas/pepper spray) against people, conform to all rules of the Geneva Convention when interacting with the populace and uprisings, eliminate intimidation tactics, eliminate “qualified immunity” and refer all incidents of injury, death, or property destruction by police to the State Attorney General’s office for independent assessment and relevant prosecution.
yep. get rid of the 1033 program
While I live in Fluvanna County, I work and shop in Charlottesville. I hope that my residence zip code does not negate my desire for a police force that is responsive to all the public.
Thank you! It is beyond time!
No militarized police in Charlottesville
We need to set a good example.
I fully support this petition.
I am a City Resident.
We need the police, we greatly appreciate their service. We do not want to feel like we are in a police state, however. Police power should be adequate, but not militaristic.
We do not need or want the military in our streets. I say this as a former infantry officer. Soldiers are not trained for this work.
Durham, North Carolina, was the first US City Council to endorse such bans. Let’s make Chalottesville the second city in the nation and the first in Virginia!
I am afraid to demonstrate because I am afraid that the police will attack me. I am seventy years old. I would really like to see that change in my lifetime. I have been waiting since 1960; can the change please be now?
Here in the USA, the police are NOT the military, and they may not “play” like they are in the military. I no longer trust the police to protect the public, because I get the sense that most of them are on the white supremacist side of things and the “guilty until proven innocent” way of thinking. I feel like the police believe that they can do whatever they like and not be held accountable. Giving them military grade gear/weaponry is inviting a very, VERY dangerous situation. NO militarized policing in Charlottesville, or anywhere else in Virginia.
I appreciate this much needed action and all efforts to pursue this positive peaceful social change!
This is wonderful! Thank you to all of you who are responsible for putting this together.
To Cville police, yes demilitarize but also thank you for your peaceful, watchful presence on June 7 during the large, peaceful protest against any brutality against our sisters and brothers of color-well done. thank you
The sharing of military-grade accessories with a small town community police force is absurd. I dont want it
THANK YOU FOR INITIATING THIS!
No militarized policing. Period! The U.S. should not wage war on its own people, or any people anywhere!
Now is the time for Charlottesville to rethink policing. Stop the violence, stop the aggression against our citizens.
An idea whose time has truly come! Thank you!
The military and the police are not part of each other!!!
C’Ville is a peaceful, just city overall. Let’s make it even better.
The behaviors addressed in this petition were wrong when they started and they are wrong now. Police should be trained broadly in de-escalation rather than the ‘us vs. them’ style of conflict that occurs today. Let’s make Cville a shining example of what can be.
This is pretty sane town. Violence begets the same.
Especially at this time with all the emphasis on police brutality!
It is way past time to de-militarize police departments. It must be done now. It is also the time to train all police officers in the history of racism in this country. how rampant it still is, and how it has to stop.
Do police departments really train officers to “protect” EVERYONE?
Militarization of the police must be reversed. We do not want to live in an occupied country. The police should never be an instrument able to impose elite rule on the people. If they are allowed to exist they should be servants of the people not unaccountable private power. Demilitarization is a crucial first step in moving the United States beyond its oppressive political foundations.
This is not to voice distrust. It is to insure a community service attitude over an enemy-dominance-centric one too common elsewhere.
Our beloved community needs resources that built trust and healing. Please divert funds used for military training and weapons of war to assist community members with significant needs.
We do NOT want any police that act like the out of control militaristic fanatics armed with tear gas and exploding cans with rubber in them to use on peaceful protesters. Yes, I’ve watched the videos from Washington DC. The police are out of control and need to be reined in or fired.
The police are not the military and weaponry and trainings that simulate war are not beneficial.
No militarized police.
Police are supposed to be peacekeepers not an armed militia to control citizens.
And no kneeling on people’s neck!
Healthcare not Warfare.
Militarized policing should never have happened in the United States.
Please keep Charlottesville at the forefront of this movement. The world is watching.
We need a STRONG PCRB like all the other states are forming.
I work in Charlottesville. I consider it my home town. Please, protect our citizens by demilitarizing the police. Thank you.
Also, ban tear gas in Charlottesville!
Charlottesville is positioned to be a national leader. This is the time to Do The Right Thing.
It’s a stellar idea!
I own a home and plan to retire in Charlottesville soon. I have family there. I want to live in a just and equitably safe town.
Eliminate militarized policing NOW.
a 43 year resident of Charlottesville, now in Durham, NC
We need police force education and training but “military-style” is not only not necessary but is counterproductive.
Please and thank you
We can be a role model since we are famous.
I have friends and family in C’ville, and hope that this city can help lead the way in de-escalation and demilitarization.
NOW is the time.
Militarized police treat citizens like enemy combatants. More community policing, more protect and serve, more funding for treating addictions and mental health issues properly.
Former resident of Charlottesville. I have shared the link to this petition widely. Militarization of the police is one of the stupidest ugliest things to come out of the illegal invasion of Iraq.
This is the least we can do to bring real justice to our community and make everyone safe.
This is a decent first step.
City Council Member pls. take action to approve! Peace!
This is crazy! There’s no need to militarize the Police. The money spent on this training could go towards building bridges with the local community to encourage better relations between the Police and them.
This is not apartheid Israel.
i like and respect dr rashall brackney and hope considerable effort is made to bring her scholarly advice and opinions and experience to bare on this subject. it’s not every community that has a carnegie mellon phd for a police chief, and i think she is highly undervalued
The police and the military have TWO SEPARATE FUNCTIONS. Those should never be confused or mixed together. Police are not military, and military is not police. It’s very simple. No MILITARIZED POLICE in Virginia!
End the incestuous collaboration between Israeli Zionist colonial forces that oppresses Palestinians and American police that oppress America People of Color. Racism and its terror intersects across the planet.
We must replace destructive conflict resolution with constructive conflict resolution!