By William R. Toler
No, it’s not a panther on steroids. It’s a military-style assault vehicle, a species which is multiplying in cities and small towns across the country.
Jacksonville, the home of Camp Lejeune, has applied for a Bearcat, according to WNCT-TV.
The acquisition is apparently to replace the police department’s aging armored vehicle, according to the ironically-named deputy police chief Patrick Traitor. “It actually broke down once or twice while it was trying to be deployed,” he said.
Traitor describes the vehicle as looking like a tank and acting like a rolling shield, the station reports, “perfect for an urban war zone.”
That says it all. The streets of America are being turned into a war zone. Not so much by “criminals”, but by the ever increasing militarization of the police forces. (For more on this subject, read Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop.)
Traitor played up on recent events including the Boston Marathon bombing and the Navy Shipyard shooting to “justify” the purchase.
But don’t worry about the $250,000 price tag, taxpayers are off the hook. “It will be totally funded by drug money that has been confiscated through law enforcement activities,” said City Manager Richard Woodruff.
In other words, it’s coming from money stolen from people whose (mostly) victimless activities are prohibited by people who call themselves “lawmakers.”
Traitor told the television station that the only other coastal city that has a Bearcat is Wilmington, but nearby Greenville is considering getting their own toy.
It’s likely there won’t be much opposition to the domestic-use tank. Most people in ENC consider themselves “patriots” and support “law and order.” One Jacksonville resident, also playing up the fear card said, “With all these terrorist attacks going on, Jacksonville is just trying to look out for the community. And I applaud that.”
Earlier this year, there was tremendous opposition in New Hampshire when the city of Concord applied for a DHS grant for its own Bearcat. One reason for the uproar, besides the obvious, was that the members of the Free State Project were essentially listed as domestic terrorists on the application.
Despite the backlash, the town approved the acquisition. A similar event took place in Keene.
As mentioned before, these vehicles (and others that are similar) are popping up in big cities, small towns and even college campuses. Ohio State University recently acquired a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, know by its acronym MRAP. According to Reason Magazine, college officials have dodged questions regarding the purpose.
Several of these armored vehicles even have Orwellian names, such as “the Peacemaker” and “Free Speech Unit.”
The Jacksonville city council is expected to approve the purchase early next month.
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