South Australians respond to militarisation of police
Written by: Nick G. on 7 July 2020
More than 200 people gathered at Parliament House in Adelaide on Monday to protest the militarisation of the SA Police (SAPOL).
Last week, the Police Minister in the State Liberal government announced the creation of a new police unit, the Security Response Squad (SRS), comprising 48 specialist officers who will wear ballistic vests and carry semi-automatic assault rifles when on duty. They will also carry a pistol, a taser, some pepper spray, a baton, a helmet and a radio.
Unlike similar units interstate which do not display their weapons on routine patrol duty, the unit will be deployed, fully armed, to routine tasks in areas including Adelaide Central Market, Rundle Mall, Adelaide Oval and the city's main railway station. As a sign of thing to come, police refused to rule out deploying the SRS unit at Saturday’s Black Lives Matter rally in the days leading up to the event. In a typical good cop-bad cop routine, they then let the rally proceed without the SRS, praising organisers for the peaceful and well-organised event.
The police are an essential component of the state machinery that protects the day-today functioning of capitalist class rule.
Militarisation of police forces is a growing international phenomenon and has a distinctively American flavour. The scourge of terrorism serves to justify the increasingly coercive presence of police in civil life. SA Police Minister Corey Wingard exposed the “terrorist” rationale when he said that the highly visible new unit would be a constant “deterrent to anyone thinking of trying anything on”.
While some people may find comfort in the expansion of police powers, others were quick to express their concerns.
An online petition calling for the SRS to be disbanded was signed by more than 3,500 people in its first 24 hours and at the time of writing was close to 10,000 signatures. SAPOL had to take down their original Facebook post announcing the creation of the SRS as so many people posted angry comments on it. The parliament House rally was organised very quickly and with no publicity other than social media posts.
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