In the days following the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, law enforcement used weapons usually seen in wartime, like smoke bombs, rubber bullets and stun grenades, against protesters.
Lyle Jeremy Rubin, a former active-duty Marine, explained in a piece for The Nation that many of the weapons used by the St. Louis County and Ferguson police departments during the protests resemble what the Marines use in combat.
"One example would be the CQB, the Close Quarters Battle Receiver,” Rubin wrote. “That’s not something most Marine squad leaders had. They had these assault friendly gas masks, that I never even really got to see when I was in Afghanistan.”
Rubin told The Huffington Post that he wrote the article because he hadn’t seen anything “written at the level of detail I wanted to see” about the military-grade equipment he witnessed being used by police officers and SWAT teams.
“They were dressing up as if they were fighting the battle of the century,” Rubin said. “It was almost a scene from a Hollywood movie, instead of controlling a crowd from potential riots.“
Rubin acknowledged that using military-grade equipment may sometimes be necessary, but warned that it has the tendency to escalate situations and should only be used as a last resort.
“I’m not a total absolutist," he said. "I think some of this gear should be sitting in the back of police precinct armories for last case scenarios. But what we’re seeing is these are being used a first resort."
"And I find that very dangerous, not only for the persons involved in the moment, but our democracy as a whole," he added.
Listen to Lyle Jeremy Rubin’s conversation with The Huffington Post above.