Massie explains why he was against militarization of the police before Ferguson

09/08/2014 08:11 AM

In mid-June most of the House of Representatives voted against an amendment to stop the demilitarization of police forces across the nation, just a handful of Congressman including Kentucky’s fourth district U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, voted in favor of the bill.

Little did Congress know that a police involved shooting on the outskirts of St. Louis would have the whole country weighing in on the tactics and tools of police just one month later.

In the wake of unrest and the images of police outfitted in military style outfits carrying specialized gear against protestors in Ferguson President Barack Obama has called for a review of the 1033 program which was designed to equip police departments for counter terrorism.

On June 19, Massie was one of just 62 members of the House to vote for a measure which would have halted the military from distributing weapons and vehicles to police forces across the country.

Massie told Pure Politics that “it seems like a popular issue now,” but the amendment which was offered by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson,D-Florida, was not “on the radar” before Ferguson.

“It lists some pretty reasonable things like: airplanes shouldn’t be given to the police, grenades — surely they don’t need grenades — tanks, but he also listed biological weapons and nuclear weapons. So that was a pretty easy amendment to vote for,” Massie said.

While Massie said he was the only member of Kentucky to vote for the measure he said “in all fairness” representatives were only given a few hours to review the amendment before a vote.

Massie said the president has the authority to stop the program without the issue being taken up in Congress, but he said he would like the issue to go before members.

The issue of police militarization has been on Massie’s radar well before he ever entered Congress, he said he grew concerned after watching the raid on the Branch Dividian compound in Waco.

“I saw them take tanks and military grade CS gas into Waco in Texas and they were using helicopters and machine guns there which was disturbing to me as well,” Massie said.


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