By Charlie Barr | The Save Jersey Blog
“Weapons of war have no place on our streets.”
President Obama said it in early February 2013 attending an anti-gun rally. While Obama and I have some staunch differences about the definition of “weapons of war,” I would sum it up by looking at recent pictures out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Vietnam.
Military vehicles roaming the streets supplied by the President’s Pentagon.
Tear gas being thrown in the middle of the night.
Explosives being thrown at citizens and police all the same.
They have no place on our streets.
Yet, when you look at the events in Ferguson Missouri, the whole event seems more or less like pictures taken right out of a history book. Iraq. Afghanistan. Vietnam.
Even going back to last year, when military vehicles plowed the streets of Boston amidst the search for a suspected terrorist. No one questioned the warrantless searches and seizures of homes and areas. No one resisted, even though it was entirely within their Constitutional right to resist.
Which brings us back home, Save Jerseyans.
I attended Chris Christie’s recent Town Hall in Long Branch. I asked the governor if he was concerned about Eatontown acquiring military vehicles amongst the chaos in Ferguson Missouri, a disturbing trend we’ve seen in other parts of the state, too.
Take a moment to think about this.
I am not commenting on facts underling the whole fiasco in Missouri, simply the fact that a military type of activity is virtually indistinguishable from images that come from Iraq or the ones that line the history books in the high school I attended.
I am not pre-judging anyone.
I am just looking at the pictures and wondering how average citizens of America allow our civil liberties to be wiped away by politicians and hardworking men and women in a police uniform.
I am not commenting on how numerous politicians came out just to grab a headline this past week, and I understand where the governor is coming from.
But my concern lies within the Eatontown police department acquiring these military vehicles.
Of course the department won’t deny “free” military vehicles. And of course they won’t say anything but the whole, “snow plowing, traffic safety, and compost site” excuse.
This is exactly how Ferguson happened. This is exactly how Boston happened.
The police department received free military vehicles and the citizens sat by idly while a small army was being built by their local police department.
If it is happening in Eatontown New Jersey, merely ten minutes from Long Branch, and about fifteen from where I live, when will it happen – if it already hasn’t – in your neighborhood?
All it takes is for one simple shooting, one simple misunderstanding, one simple thing gone wrong, and chaos breaks loose.
Not in Boston.
Not in Ferguson.
Here in New Jersey.
I appreciate the Governor’s response, but I haven’t jumped to conclusions. I’ve looked at the pictures and videos of what I would like to think is Iraq, but isn’t.
I’ve looked past the fact that police are there to protect us, because sometimes – more often than not nowadays – they aren’t.
A majority of police officers in this country are hardworking men and women who do put their lives on the line everyday to protect us from bad people – but that is clearly not what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri.
It’s not jumping to conclusions nor pre-judging the situation.
It’s simply questioning the authority of the government and holding public servants accountable to those they serve. In Missouri and in New Jersey.
I encourage Eatontown to jump ahead of the curve and to start demilitarizing their police department.
There is no need for these vehicles on the streets of New Jersey, despite what politicians and police departments will tell you.
We have a global empire and a perceived problem of immigrants flooding into the country, and of all the places that America chooses to put their ex – military vehicles is, it’s in New Jersey?
The last thing I want to see is a New Jersey town being indistinguishable from Iraq and Afghanistan on the news.
Unfortunately, for New Jersey, Eatontown is one step closer to being the town similar to Boston and Ferguson.
And it shouldn’t be taken lightly.