Following remarks from Attorney General Jeff Sessions stating President Trump’s intention to reverse an executive order by President Obama limiting military weapons to local law enforcement, Justin Mazzola, Amnesty International USA researcher, issued the following statement:
“Today’s executive order is a grave mistake and could easily lead to a repeat of human rights violations that we’ve seen in the past. Police officers should be equipped to protect public safety and defuse conflict, but this policy would instead outfit them for a battlefield and escalate tensions.
“In Ferguson, Amnesty International witnessed a local police force, armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons facing a crowd of protestors, including elderly people and young children. We cannot allow that to happen again. President Trump must reconsider this order immediately.”
In a 2015 report, “On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson,” covering the police response to protestors in Ferguson, MO, Amnesty International spoke directly to the issue of military-grade weapons in the hands of local law enforcement and their effect on peaceful protest.