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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, released the following statement in response to President Trump’s decision to lift an Obama Administration-era ban and allow state and local law enforcement to purchase military surplus equipment for use in their respective communities.
“President Trump has once again signaled that he intends to further divide us, placing more Americans at risk for targeted police violence and sowing distrust within our country and among African-Americans,” said Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP. “The protests following the police brutality and extrajudicial killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown show us that using armored vehicles and advanced weaponry on U.S. citizens only escalates conflict and furthers the antagonistic relationship between the police and those they have sworn to protect. Instead of learning from past mistakes, this president is preparing and arming police forces for war against the American people.
“The militarization of police forces in our country is not the answer to keeping our communities safe and achieving ‘law and order.’ Advanced weaponry belongs on the battlefield, not turned on the very people who paid for the same equipment to protect our freedom abroad.
“The NAACP stands with our blue brothers and sisters as we call for increased community engagement and recruitment of local residents as police officers. Building public trust and good will between the police and local communities is the key to enhancing public safety and reducing crime without inciting further violence and ill will. We believe in a healthy community that works together, not one that works to divide and harm itself.”