All those billions of dollars spent to prepare law enforcement and the US military for civil unrest are not going to waste.
This past week, police converged on Western Illinois University (situated in a town of about 20,000 people) as students engaged in their annual block party. Unlike previous years, however, this year a decision was made to respond with riot gear, tear gas, sound weapons, intimidation and mass arrests.
The most curious issue surrounding the response is that students, by many accounts, were not engaged in any significant unlawful behavior (open containers, maybe some intoxication and tomfoolery) and the block party was behind held, for the most part, at private residences.
Bored with the usual, local and surrounding police forces decided to deploy officers in full riot gear – at least a hundred of them. They were undoubtedly anxious to play with their new federally funded non-lethal anti-personnel weapons, as evidenced by their use of everything from LRAD sound weapons to tear gas to disperse and aggravate the crowd.
The events that unfolded at WIU are just the latest in a trend we’ve seen develop around the world in recent years. We’ll note that the governor of Wisconsin, when recently faced with mass protests, responded similarly by putting the National Guard on alert within hours of demonstrators gathering in the Capitol.
We would like to say that in the very near future large-scale police response will be the norm, but this is not the case. The future is now. Block parties, protests and any gatherings of large groups of people are already seeing a strong storm trooper presence and being dealt with swiftly once the order is given.