Action Alert:

Demilitarize the Police, Abolish the 1033 Program

MAPA Newsletter February 2021

Cambridge Police Department deployed a Ford F-550 BearCat emergency response vehicle for a Black Lives Matter healing event in Lafayette Square on July 10. Community members organized a meeting last week to discuss what they believed to be an overly militarized response by the police. Courtesy photo/Black Lives Matter Cambridge Cambridge Police Department deployed a Ford F-550 BearCat emergency response vehicle for a Black Lives Matter healing event in Lafayette Square on July 10. Community members organized a meeting last week to discuss what they believed to be an overly militarized response by the police. Courtesy photo/Black Lives Matter Cambridge

Mass. Peace Action supports this key Black Alliance for Peace demand to the Biden Administration

 

by Rosemary Kean

Ajamu Baraka, the national organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP), describes the Biden administration’s plan to “alter” the 1033 program as “an affront.” This program distributes surplus military weapons and equipment to cities and towns across the country.

“The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States through this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression,” a BAP statement declares. “Therefore, nothing short of complete abolition of this program is acceptable.”

The peace movement has been pushing for cuts to the military budget since the disastrous rise in Pentagon spending began during the Reagan administration. With the rise of the Black Lives Matter and antiracism movement and the continuing brutal treatment and murder of Black people by the police, it is time to refocus our attention on the need to cut both the Pentagon and the police budgets. Demilitarization of the police by abolishing the 1033 program is the starting point.

“Defunding the police,” in addition to demilitarizing, is another campaign MAPA supports. Our Racial Justice Decolonization Working Group has been looking at what “defunding the police” means, as outlined by the Movement for Black Lives. Essentially it is a “divest / invest” plan, very similar to that of the peace movement demand to cut Pentagon spending and invest in schools, public transit, health care, and jobs. Some of our recent MAPA slogans and campaigns have included “healthcare not warfare” and “subways not submarines.”

As MAPA member Andrew King testified at a Cambridge City Council hearing last month, “The recent racial justice demonstrations have sparked a national conversation on police violence and militarization, and the reimagining of what public safety would look like if we repurposed excessive funding for policing towards…human needs programs in under-resourced communities.” (link the bolded word to wherever you post the new version of the piece on Andrew King’s testimony)

Jury selection in the trial of the policeman charged with second-degree murder in the death of George Floyd is to begin next month on March 8. Mass Peace Action will follow this issue as the trial unfolds. We stand against racist policing. We must begin the process of defunding the police and investing in our communities now. The first step is to abolish the 1033 program and end the distribution of military weapons to police forces in cities and towns all over the country. Demilitarize the police.

(Sign our petition to abolish the 1033 program.)

 

—Rosemary Kean is co-chair of Mass. Peace Action’s Racial Justice and Decolonization working group and co-chair of MAPA’s Board of Directors