The Incremental Normalization Of Police Murderbots Probably Needs More Attention

One of the most under-discussed topics in the world right now is how governments have been incrementally pacing the public toward accepting the use of police robots that kill people.

The city of San Francisco has voted to legalize the use of killbots in specific emergency situations like active shooters and suicide bombers, with high-ranking officers making the call as to whether their use is warranted.

“Police in San Francisco will be allowed to deploy potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots in emergency situations,” The Guardian reports. “The controversial policy was approved after weeks of scrutiny and a heated debate among the city’s board of supervisors during their meeting on Tuesday.”

“The proposed policy does not lay out specifics for how the weapons can and cannot be equipped, leaving open the option to arm them,” The Guardian reports, adding that the current plan is to equip them with “explosive charges” rather than firearms.

We are seeing more and more expansions in the normalization of militarized police robots, to the point where there are now significant escalations from year to year. Last year I wrote a piece on the way police departments in the US and Canada have been normalizing the use of quadrupedal robots (disingenuously labeled “dogs” for PR purposes) for tasks like surveilling hostage situations and enforcing Covid restrictions. A few months later I had to write another one on this trend because arms manufacturers had begun designing firearms specifically to be mounted on those same quadruped bots. The year before during the 2020 George Floyd protests it was revealed that police had been using drones to surveil demonstrations in US cities, including the Predator drone normally used overseas by the US military.

Now the Oakland Police Department is pushing for the use of robots armed with shotguns. Police have already used a robot armed with a bomb to kill a suspect in Texas. Every year we’re seeing more steps toward the normalized ubiquitousness of unmanned weapons systems for domestic use in western civilization.

It makes sense that the US, whose police force is more heavily funded than almost any other nation’s military force, is leading this charge. As John and Nisha Whitehead explain for The Rutherford Institute, this ongoing expansion of police robot militarization tracks alongside the steadily increasing militarization of police forces in the US more generally; SWAT teams first appeared in California the 1960s, by 1980 the US was seeing 3,000 SWAT team-style raids per year, and by 2014 that number had soared to 80,000. It’s probably a lot higher now.

“These robots, often acquired by local police departments through federal grants and military surplus programs, signal a tipping point in the final shift from a Mayberry style of community policing to a technologically-driven version of law enforcement dominated by artificial intelligence, surveillance, and militarization,” write Whitehead and Whitehead, adding, “It’s only a matter of time before these killer robots intended for use as a last resort become as common as SWAT teams.”

Keep reading

Why Is The Government Arming More Federal Bureaucrats Than US Marines?

When Congress authorized $80 billion this year to beef up Internal Revenue Service enforcement and staffing, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned that “Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you.”

A video quickly went viral racking up millions of views, purporting to show a bunch of clumsy bureaucrats receiving firearms training, prompting alarm that the IRS would be engaged in military-style raids of taxpayers. The GOP claims were widely attacked as exaggerations — since the video, though from the IRS, didn’t show official agent training — but the criticism has shed light on a growing trend: the rapid arming of the federal government.

A report issued last year by the watchdog group Open The Books, “The Militarization of The U.S. Executive Agencies,” found that more than 200,000 federal bureaucrats now have been granted the authority to carry guns and make arrests — more than the 186,000 Americans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. “One hundred three executive agencies outside of the Department of Defense spent $2.7 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019 (inflation adjusted),” notes the report. “Nearly $1 billion ($944.9 million) was spent between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 alone.”

The watchdog reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has 1,300 guns including one shotgun, five submachine guns, and 189 automatic firearms. NASA has its own fully outfitted SWAT team, with all the attendant weaponry, including armored vehicles, submachine guns, and breeching shotguns. The Environmental Protection Agency has purchased drones, GPS trackers, radar equipment, and night vision goggles, and stockpiled firearms.

2018 Government Accountability Office report noted that the IRS had 4,487 guns and 5,062,006 rounds of ammunition in inventory at the end of 2017 — before the enforcement funding boost this year. The IRS did not respond to requests for information, though the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division does put out an annual report detailing basic information such as how many warrants the agency is executing in a given year.

More than a hundred executive agencies have armed investigators, and apparently no independent authority is monitoring or tracking the use of force across the federal government. Agencies contacted by RealClearInvestigations from HHS to EPA declined to provide, or said they did not have, comprehensive statistics on how often their firearms are used, or details on how they conduct armed operations.

“I would be amazed if that data exists in any way,” said Trevor Burrus, a research fellow in constitutional and criminal law at the libertarian Cato Institute. “Over the years of working on this, it’s quite shocking how much they try to not have their stuff tracked on any level.”

Keep reading

OAKLAND COPS HOPE TO ARM ROBOTS WITH LETHAL SHOTGUNS

IN A SERIES of little noted Zoom meetings this fall, the city of Oakland, California, grappled with a question whose consequences could shape the future of American policing: Should cops be able to kill people with shotgun-armed robots?

The back-and-forth between the Oakland Police Department and a civilian oversight body concluded with the police relinquishing their push for official language that would have allowed them to kill humans with robots under certain circumstances. It was a concession to the civilian committee, which pushed to bar arming robots with firearms — but a concession only for the time being.

The department said it will continue to pursue lethal option. When asked whether the the Oakland Police Department will continue to advocate for language that would allow killer robots under certain emergency circumstances, Lt. Omar Daza-Quiroz, who represented the department in discussions over the authorized robot use policy, told The Intercept, “Yes, we are looking into that and doing more research at this time.”

The controversy began at the September 21 meeting of an Oakland Police Commission subcommittee, a civilian oversight council addressing what rules should govern the use of the city’s arsenal of military-grade police equipment. According to California state law, police must seek approval from a local governing body, like a city council, to determine permissible uses of military equipment or weapons like stun grenades and drones. Much of the September meeting focused on the staples of modern American policing, with the commissioners debating the permissible uses of flash-bang grenades, tear gas, and other now-standard equipment with representatives from the Oakland Police Department.

Roughly two hours into the meeting, however, the conversation moved on to the Oakland police’s stable of robots and their accessories. One such accessory is the gun-shaped “percussion actuated nonelectric disruptor,” a favorite tool of bomb squads at home and at war. The PAN disruptor affixes to a robot and directs an explosive force — typically a blank shotgun shell or pressurized water — at suspected bombs while human operators remain at a safe distance. Picture a shotgun barrel secured to an 800-pound Roomba on tank treads.

Keep reading

Repression, Terror, Fear: The Government Wants to Silence the Opposition

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” — President Harry S. Truman

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. Lockdowns.

This is not the language of freedom. This is not even the language of law and order.

This is the language of force.

This is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who speak out against government corruption, misconduct and abuse.

These overreaching, heavy-handed lessons in how to rule by force have become standard operating procedure for a government that communicates with its citizenry primarily through the language of brutality, intimidation and fear.

Keep reading

Innocent Family’s Home Burned, 15yo Boy Dead After SWAT Set Their Home on Fire with Flash Bangs

An innocent family is homeless and a 15-year-old boy is dead after a SWAT team engaged in a standoff to arrest a suspect for a parole violation. Police are now conducting damage control to avoid taking the blame.

SWAT team raids house for a robbery suspect. Flashbangs ignite the house, which is then engulfed in flames. After the fire, police find the body of a 14-year-old boy. He was not the suspect. Nor was the family who live in the house.

(via @DrRJKavanagh)https://t.co/Sog4jszHzR

— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) July 10, 2022

Last week, police said they were pursuing a suspect, Qiaunt Kelley, for a federal felony warrant for robbery. They later changed their story to say that Kelley was wanted for violation of parole. While on the run, Kelley ran into the home of an innocent family and barricaded himself inside the home, according to police.

A standoff ensued for hours as police demanded Kelley exit the home. As Kelley held up in the home, a 15-year-old boy, identified as Brett Rosenau, also entered the home and police knew he was inside. He was not a suspect and was not wanted but it is unclear as to why he did not exit the home.

The teenager somehow “followed Kelley into the home,” the Albuquerque department said.

At some point during the standoff, smoke began emerging from the windows as half the house became engulfed in flames. As fire-fighters arrived on the scene, Kelley escaped the fire and was taken into custody before being transported to a local hospital to be treated for burn injuries. He is currently in jail.

The boy who was holed up in the home with Kelley was not so lucky. After the fire-fighters extinguished the fire, they found the boy’s body. Officials have yet released the cause of the boy’s death.

After news of the boy’s death was reported, Albuquerque police quickly took to Twitter to dispel rumors that they shot him. However, they admitted that their actions could have ignited the fire.

“There is false information being spread on social media about the overnight SWAT incident. No officers fired their weapons. Arson investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire. Both individuals were given opportunities to safely exit the house,” the department tweeted.

Adding that “We disclosed the devices used to get the occupants to exit the home. We have used them hundreds of times w/out incident. We acknowledge the possibility that one of these devices may have contributed to the fire. AFR’s arson investigation will determine the cause of the fire.”

We disclosed the devices used to get the occupants to exit the home. We have used them hundreds of times w/out incident. We acknowledge the possibility that one of these devices may have contributed to the fire. AFR’s arson investigation will determine the cause of the fire.

— APD Public Information Officer (@APD_PIO) July 10, 2022

Residents of the home told KOB4 that the flashbangs were the cause of the fire.

Keep reading

Everybody’s Guilty: To The Police State, We’re All Criminals Until We Prove Otherwise

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

The burden of proof has been reversed.

No longer are we presumed innocent. Now we’re presumed guilty unless we can prove our innocence beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Rarely, are we even given the opportunity to do so.

Although the Constitution requires the government to provide solid proof of criminal activity before it can deprive a citizen of life or liberty, the government has turned that fundamental assurance of due process on its head.

Each and every one of us is now seen as a potential suspect, terrorist and lawbreaker in the eyes of the government.

Consider all the ways in which “we the people” are now treated as criminals, found guilty of violating the police state’s abundance of laws, and preemptively stripped of basic due process rights.

Keep reading

Police Are Purchasing Armored Tanks For Extremist Protests, Mudslides And Avalanches

During the pandemic, police departments across the country decided that now would be a great time to acquire armored tanks. And the reasons they use to justify those purchases are infuriating.

What started out as a ludicrous reason by police in Juneau, Alaska to justify purchasing a Lenco Armored Vehicle BearCat G3, has turned into a dubious campaign used by police across the country.

Eight days ago, the Juneau Empire reported how city officials thought that if the Juneau Police Department changed the paint color of their armored tank, the public would be more willing to accept it.

“It can’t look like what we see in these pictures here,” Assembly member Christine Woll said. “It’s a small thing, but I think it helps people understand what’s coming toward them in that moment,” Woll said.

After receiving startled reactions from the public, the police department claimed that they needed a tank to protect the public from extremist protests.

“The BearCat is a customizable all-steel armored vehicle that accommodates up to 12 fully-equipped officers, and used by police departments and other agencies for everything from rescues in difficult-to-access remote areas to ‘extremist’ protests where gunfire and other threats are present.”

Using the threat of “extremist” protests as a reason to purchase an armored tank is about as absurd as it gets. Or so I thought.

The Juneau police also claimed to need an armored tank to respond to landslides and avalanches.

“The Juneau Police Department envisions using the BearCat to respond to natural disasters such as landslides and avalanches where road access is impossible for existing vehicles, as well as high-threat situations such as evacuating people from neighborhoods while under gunfire.”

Which excuse is more preposterous? I am not sure, but I think it is probably the first: protecting the public from extremist protests.  A close second, is needing tanks to respond to landslides and avalanches which stretches law enforcement’s credulity to absurd lengths.

Keep reading