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Civilian Police With Military Equipment

by Ed Lyon

During late May through the first of June 1989, citizens peacefully demonstrated for freedom in China’s Tiananmen Square. On June 4, the government’s response was to authorize a bloody rout of these peaceful protesters using soldiers, tanks, and other military resources resulting in thousands of dead citizens. Today, China refers to this as an incident.

Three years and eight months later, on February 28, 1993, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) laid siege to the Mount Carmel group of buildings belonging to the Branch Davidian Church, just east of Waco, Texas. According to survivor Thomas Cook, ATF agents driving M-60 tanks buzzed the area, running over the church members’ cars, knocking down trees, and actually “mooning” the church members.

This ended on April 19, 1993, when ATF agents rammed the 155-millimeter gun barrels of the M-60 tanks into two places of the main building and Chapel to allegedly pump tear gas into it. The “tear gas” ignited, the building burned, and scores of church members died in the conflagration. So, instead of using soldiers, ATF agents, driving weapons of war, executed a “law enforcement” action against civilians.

Twenty-seven years and one month later, four Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officers brutally murdered Black citizen George Floyd, knowing full well they were being videoed by citizens and seemingly unconcerned by it. Citizens across the U.S., finally fed up with police murdering them at will and with impunity, began protesting.

Combining pages from the Chinese Communists and ATF playbooks, camouflage-clad, body armor-wearing, military hardware-toting “law enforcement” personnel with armored military vehicles confronted protesting citizens in such ways as to make the Chinese Communist People’s Liberation Army and ATF chests swell with pride.

Where and how are civilian police departments coming into possession of military hardware they use in the course of their duties? Beginning in the 1990s, a federal initiative titled Program 1033 began. Its purpose is to transfer surplus military equipment to civilian law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately for the American people, there is an enormous surplus of military equipment that can and is being repurposed for use against us.

Despite massively upgrading civilian police departments with military equipment and hardware, it has been proven that militarizing law enforcement agencies does nothing to enhance officer safety or lower crime rates. [See CLN, February 2019, p. 21]

The states with the largest appetite for militarizing their police are Alabama, population 5.04 million; Florida, population 21.78 million; Georgia, population 10.8 million; South Carolina, population 5.19 million; Tennessee, population 6.97 million; Texas, population 29.53 million; and North Dakota, population 774,948.

With the exception of North Dakota, these states comprise the majority of what is known as the nation’s Bible Belt. One would think that states with a label like that would be known for compassion, forgiveness, and love instead of gearing up for Armageddon like armies of Christian soldiers.

There are some surprising outliers. The town of Buckeye, Arizona, population 105,315, received two Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles for its police department. These massive military monsters are needed for responding to active shooter incidents, serving search warrants and setting up barricades according to a police department spokesperson.

By comparison, the village of Jamestown, North Dakota, population 16,000 or so, applied for and received more than $3 million dollars’ worth of military might to include an armored Humvee. It is a real stretch of a person’s imagination to envision an active shooter or need for barricading in a jurisdiction that tiny.

At the rate the federal government is supplying military equipment and hardware to cities, towns, and villages, it may not be long until prowling tanks will be a common sight on many U.S. streets.

Source:, ABC Nightly News, personal interview with Branch Davidian Thomas Cook



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