RIA NOVOSTI 08/22/14

FERGUSON, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – Harsh policing of protests over the police killing of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, showcase a trend towards the militarization of US law enforcement, Michael Shank, a religious group director, told RIA Novosti Friday.

“The militarization of the police in Ferguson has national implications. Ferguson police were equipped by the Pentagon, but the same thing is happening across the US,” said Shank, a director at a Quaker group, the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“Officials provide military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 Program, enacted by Congress in 1997, to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear,” the expert added.

Ferguson, a mostly-black suburb of St Louis of some 21,000 residents, has been shaken by often violent protests since the police killing of Mike Brown, an unarmed teen, as he walked with a friend on a residential street on the afternoon of August 9.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon withdrew National Guard troops on Thursday as protests calmed in recent nights. Police have been criticized for using military tactics, toting assault rifles and using tear gas, rubber bullets and other heavy-handed measures.