One of Black Lives Matter's Biggest Victories Is in Jeopardy

July 25th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

The White House may change its ban on military weapons.

The murder of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana is prompting President Barack Obama to reconsider a 2015 ban on certain types of military-grade weapons in police departments, according to an exclusive story from Reuters.

Ferguson SWAT team

The executive order banned the U.S. military and federal agencies from giving armored vehicles, camouflage uniforms, grenade launchers, and other types of weapons to police. A program run by the Pentagon previously sold and distributed extra military gear to law enforcement agencies, even those that were under investigation by the Department of Justice for civil rights violations, according to Politico. The program called the 1033 Program gave millions of dollars in military gear to police departments starting in 1997.

The ban was implemented last year after pictures from across the country showed police officers approaching protesters with military-style equipment. In August of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists released a list of policy proposals for reformed policing, which included the demilitarization of police forces, and the Obama administration responded. Obama created a task force to develop more effective methods of policing.

"We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them," Obama said last year, according to CNN. "It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message."

Ferguson, Missouri police response

After five police officers were killed by a gunman at a previously peaceful Black Lives Matter protest and three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told Reuters that the Obama administration's position could change. Pasco said that military-style gear is important protection for police officers.

"The White House thought this kind of gear was intimidating to people, but they didn't know the purpose it serves," Pasco told Reuters.

Obama met with police chiefs and leaders across the country, including Pasco, on July 11, three days after five police officers were killed in Dallas and six days before the officers were killed in Baton Rouge, according to Reuters.

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