7 Examples of a “Police State,” and How They Are Appearing in the U.S.


Will Potter

“Has the United States become a police state?”

That’s the stark question I was asked at the beginning of a recent radio interview.

Framing the current political climate in these terms is quite blunt, and can be jarring to some people because it automatically conjures images of, for example, Nazi Germany. That’s clearly different than what is occurring right now in the United States. So  how do we conceptualize the current state of government repression, and how do we put it in a historical context?

Is this a police state? If not, what is it?

The image that most people hold of a “police state” is a representation of extreme power dynamics, and repressive tactics to maintain them, at specific points of history. The current political climate in the United States is unique in many ways, and distinct from those eras. However, it shares core attributes that we generally associate with a “police state”:

1. Raids, harassment, and intimidation of dissidents by police

When FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents raided multiple activist homes in the Northwest recently, they were in search of “anti-government or anarchist literature.”

2. Militarization of domestic law enforcement

As Arthur Rizer wrote for The Atlantic:

In an effort to remedy their relative inadequacy in dealing with terrorism on U.S. soil, police forces throughout the country have purchased military equipment, adopted military training, and sought to inculcate a “soldier’s mentality” among their ranks.

3. Disproportionate prison sentences for political activists

The reason Marie Mason, who destroyed property, received a prison sentence twice as long as racists, who harmed human beings, is because of her politics.

Likewise Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison for non-violent disrupting an illegal oil and gas lease auction because he cost corporations thousands of dollars.

4. Creation of new laws for people because of their political beliefs

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was created solely to prosecute activists who threaten the “loss of profits” for corporations.

And now 10 states have considered “Ag Gag” bills that go so far as to criminalize non-violent undercover investigations. The new bills have passed in two states, Utah and Iowa.

5. Creation of special prison units

In addition to Guantanamo Bay, which Obama has refused to close, there are now two experimental prison units on U.S. soil for “domestic terrorists.” These Communications Management Units are for political prisoners that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons describes as having “inspirational significance.”

6. Pervasive use of surveillance

Spy drones are being used by domestic law enforcement for surveillance, artificial intelligence, and monitoring social movements (here’s a great overview from Salon).

Recently, Tampa police wanted to use them against RNC protesters.

This is in addition to widespread surveillance measures such as TrapWire.

7. Criminalization of ideology

In my opinion this is the hallmark of any police state: the targets of the state have little to do with criminal activity, and everything to do with their perceived subversive ideology.

For example, consider these FBI “domestic terrorism” training documents which say that anarchists are “criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities.”

There is no “tipping point”

A final, more nebulous characteristic of a police state is the extent to which all of the tactics above take place. It’s a question of degree and intensity, and some would argue that, even though these tactics are occurring with increasing frequency, they are not at the level that would merit this kind of “police state” language. I think that’s completely reasonable.

But no matter how you feel about the characterization of what is occurring right now, the most important point is this: if we’re not a police state already, we are marching closer and closer every day.

In the following interview, I try to dispel some of the myths about police states and how they are created, including the flawed idea of a “tipping point” leading up to extreme states of repression.

Listen to the full interview here (starting at 55:43) or download it from iTunes (it’s the 8/23/12 show)

This article first appeared at greenisthenewred

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. Reseever says:

    didn’t expect to live forever; if each of us takes 1 of them with us, we WILL win !

  2. MattS says:

    There was a raid on a suspected whorehouse last weekend near here, and DHS participated!!!
    Is the DHS with 180,000 employees Obama’s personal army?
    TSA; Coast Guard; FEMA, etc all belong to DHS.
    This is a domestic Army.

  3. ARIZONA says:

    WARNING-OCTOBER 15, 2012,stock market crashes, 10 days later major earthquake,get ready……………………………..

  4. ARIZONA says:

    EVERYONE asks me what can we DO??? WHEN I tell them its to late to worry about the government,the country has gone over the CLIFE, YOU MUST start preparing for the CRASH,IT WILL BE HORRIBLE, the government has been PREPARING for the END,THE RUSSIANS ARE HERE ,THE CHINESE ARE HERE,THE POLICE ARE GEARED UP FOR YOU,when you realize you have been HAD……..there going to try to KILL AS MANY OF YOU AS THEY CAN, BY THE TIME america gets off their KNEES,HAFT THE COUNTRY WILL BE DEAD,the rest will realize its time to FIGHT OR DIE, its time to start getting ready for the worse internal WAR AMERICANS HAVE EVER FOUGHT,FOOD,WATER, AS MUCH AMMO FOR YOUR WEAPONS AS YOU CAN GET,ANYTHING LESS WILL BE YOUR DEATH, THE DEATH OF AMERICA IS AT HAND,pray to the LORD you will be found worthy to escape these things coming upond you and your family,seek the LORD while he can still be found……………………………….

  5. ARIZONA says:

    WE gave them an OATH OF OFFICE, PROTECT THE CONSTUTITION OF THE USA, YET THEY say its just a piece of PAPER, they no longer care about the LAW of the LAND, THEY SAY we don’t work for you,WE WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT???? YOU don’t need to be a rocket scienist to see the day is coming when they will beat your brains in because their boss told them too,LOOK AT NEW YORK CITY,or the SIX year old who was hit in the face with a POLICE rifle butt,BRAKING MOST OF THE BONES IN HER FACE,Because her mother defied a police order……..THIS IS THE STATE OF OUR POLICE, KILL THE CHILDREN IF THE PARENTS DEFIE THEIR RULES,the really sad thing is now to be policialy correct you must go along with your children being injuried or killed BY THE POLICE,IF you fight back your a terrorist and condemed by all your neighbors as having deserved anything they do to you,including KILLING YOUR CHILDREN,YOUR PETS,WRECKING YOUR HOUSE,TAKING YOUR PROPERTY, and the worse part is WE WILL KILL YOU, IF YOU DON’T PAY US,WHATEVER WE DECIDE TO FINE YOU,and everybody goes along with it because there afraid to say stop,ITS easer to just get down on their knees and start sucking…………………..COWARDS NEVER HAVE FREEDOM,ONLY SLAVERY………………………………

Leave a Reply

© 2012 Pakalert Press. All rights reserved.