Law enforcement officers, including a sniper perched atop an armored vehicle, watch as demonstrators protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Aug. 13, 2014.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The administration of US President Donald Trump is preparing to lift a ban on the transfer of some surplus military equipment to police departments which had used armored vehicles and other war-fighting gear to confront peaceful protesters across the country.
The controversial program was blocked in May 2015 by then President Barack Obama amid an outcry after police responded in a battlefield-style to rioting in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson and other cities.
Trump is reportedly planning to sign an executive order undoing an Obama administration executive order that halted the use of armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft or vehicles, large-caliber weapons, grenade launchers, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms and ammunition and other heavy equipment on America's streets.St. Louis County Police tactical officers fire tear gas on West Florissant Road on Monday, August 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by AFP)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will address the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police on Monday, where he is expected to outline the program under which "assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
According to a Trump administration summary of the new program circulated to some law enforcement agencies, Trump’s order would restore "the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense, along with restoring the full scope of grants used to purchase this type of equipment from other sources.''
"Assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be re-purposed to help state, local and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.”
Obama had ordered the federal government to stop providing military equipment by police departments, following unrest in US cities over the deaths of black men at the hands of mostly white police officers.
Police in riot gear stand guard as protesters gather on August 19, 2015 in St. Louis.
Obama said that the heavy use of war zone equipment fuels a sense of fear and anger against police and makes it look like an “occupying force”.
The ban was part of Obama’s efforts to ease tensions between law enforcement departments and minority communities in reaction to the protests over police violence across the US.
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. (File photo)
He took the action after a task force he created in January 2015 decided that police departments should be barred from using federal funds to acquire military-style equipment.
The militarization of police and use of heavy-handed tactics against protesters, especially in communities of color like Ferguson and Baltimore, have become a major concern for many in the United States.