Online petition urges Obama to ‘demilitarize’

A petition urging President Obama to stop the “national militarization” of police departments had garnered more than 26,000 signatures online.

The petition was launched in response to the police’s handling of protests in Ferguson, Mo., which has highlighted how law enforcement agencies across the country have been armed with surplus military gear through the Pentagon’s 1033 program.

“The Pentagon is encouraging local police forces to feel as if they are going into battle — with a clear enemy and a shoot-to-kill mentality,” the petition reads. “This national militarization of police must be stopped immediately.”

The petition urges the government to dissolve the 1033 program and stop the flow of military equipment to local police departments.

Members of Congress have vowed to take a closer look at the program following the unrest in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, over the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The images from the area have drawn comparisons to a war zone, with police officers patrolling the streets in body armor and blast-proof vehicles.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) last week said he plans to introduce a bill in Congress that would curtail the sale of DOD weapons to local police departments.

“Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s,” he wrote in a letter to colleagues.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he plans to review the DOD program as part of work on the annual defense authorization bill.

“Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended,” Levin said in a statement Friday.

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