You know how they say that, to a person holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Now imagine if hammers were advanced weaponry, and imagine if the people wielding them had considerable power in our society, and a history of mistaking some communities for nails? Well, the Trump administration just lifted President Obama’s restrictions on police acquisition of military-grade hardware from the Pentagon. This means police departments are now free to acquire armored vehicles, grenade launchers, large-caliber weapons, and even armed aircrafts, with very little oversight. Attorney General Jeff Sessions justified the lifting of the restrictions by saying this was about putting safety above “superficial concerns,” and claiming Obama’s restrictions had prevented police departments from acquiring life-saving equipment, like kevlar vests and helmets. This claim just happens to be made up and not true at all, but that is just the second most objectionable falsehood in Sessions’ statement. In a political climate of frequent protests and a president who urges police to be “rough,” the concern over putting cool new “toys” in the hands of police without adequate explanation or oversight is hardly “superficial.”

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