Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Military Cannot Do The Job Of Law Enforcement

by Dick Mac

When law enforcement agencies are allowed to do their jobs, they often succeed.

We've seen over the past few years that attempts by criminals to wreck havoc and terror on the citizenry can be avoided when the investigation is left to law enforcement.

Terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States have been thwarted and/or quickly resolved because the military has been kept out of the way.

In the years immediately following the crimes of September 11, 2001, the United States president funnelled huge amounts of money to military contractors and created a new huge government agency to protect Americans. Both of these tactics have been a failure and massive waste of money. Still, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies have done what they do best: investigate crime and enforce the law.

Forty years ago today, elected officials decided to use the military, instead of local law enforcement agencies, to police a demonstration by college students protesting the war in Vietnam, generally, and the invasion of Cambodia, specifically.

From coast-to-coast, American citizens had been expressing dismay with the war, and as American casualties increased, the protests became larger.

I lived a block from Boston State Teachers College, and students there held a number of demonstrations against the war over the years, and the police successfully managed the protests. Even when students took-over the administration building, the police managed to maintain order and bring the protest to a peaceful end.

Police coast-to-coast managed anti-war demonstrations. There was the occasional flare-up, and there were times when police and/or demonstrators got out-of-hand. Crimes were committed, riots were provoked, but generally, anti-war demonstrations were protected events that ended peacefully.

That is what the police are supposed to do: maintain order.

This is not the role of the military. Nowhere in history or in the world is the day-to-day maintenance of order the job of the military. A nations that uses its military to maintain day-to-day order is generally not a free state, is often called a fascist state, and usually does not enjoy any law and order.

Up until this day (May 4, 1970) forty years ago, there was a real split between pro-war and anti-war that seemed almost equally divided.

On May 1, 1970, students at Kent State University held a demonstration to protest the invasion of Cambodia during lunch. Another demonstration was planned for May 4th.

The military proceeded to the campus to prevent the demonstration from happening.

As the protest was broken-up and the protesters dispersed, tensions continued to rise. The National Guard made a series of maneuvers and as the event became violent, things went poorly.

What transpired is still debated. One thing that is not debated is the deaths of four students, some of whom were passersby, not demonstrators.

The National Guard say a sniper opened fire on them. I don't know anybody who ever believed that. I don't remember that statement having any credibility in the national discourse that followed. Even one of my uncles who was totally pro-war expressed anger and outrage about the event, generally blaming the protesters, but dismissing the notion that a sniper shot on the military.

After the incident, the nation's attitude became increasingly anti-war. People who had been supporters of the war and critics of the demonstrators were disgusted by the site of American soldiers opening fire on American students.

The shootings at Kent State were one of those events that changed the world.

When law enforcement agencies are left to do the work of law enforcement, we stand a better chance of justice and liberty being maintained. When we try to perform law enforcement tasks with the military, things always go poorly.

Kent State shootings at Wikipedia

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