government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show.
The purchase orders include requests
for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment
for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”
The Veterans Affairs department, which manages nearly 1,500 health care care facilities around the country, has also extended special contracts
for coronavirus-related security services
Redcon Solutions Group, a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans, has won over $1.6 million
in contracts to provide guards for “Covid-19 screening security guard services.” Similar contracts have gone out to private security firms to guard VA facilities in San Francisco
, Des Moines
, and Fayetteville
, among others.
The increased security contracts appeared shortly after a recent Inspector General report noted
an increase in absenteeism among VA employees and shortages among VA police. The IG report noted that there is “additional strain caused by the need for additional police presence for COVID-19-related screenings” of veterans at all VA health facilities and recommended the hiring of contract security services.
The VA police, as The Intercept previously reported
, was not armed until 2011, when the Pentagon began providing military equipment to police forces around the country.
“Between 2005 and 2014, VA police departments acquired millions of dollars’ worth of body armor, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and other weapons and tactical gear,” The Intercept reported last year. But an Inspector General report in December 2018 found there was little oversight. “The OIG found that forces at roughly three out of every four facilities were not receiving timely inspections. Further, the sparse data collected on police activities was not tracked or assessed in any systematic or rigorous way.”
The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus legislation passed in late March, also authorized $850 million
for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, a federal grant program to prepare law enforcement, correctional officers, and police for the crisis. The funds have been dispensed to local governments to pay for overtime costs, purchase protective supplies, and defray expenses related to emergency policing.
The CESF funding may be used for a range of coronavirus response efforts by law enforcement, including medical personal protective equipment, overtime for police officers, training, and supplies for detention centers. The grants may also be used for the purchase of unmanned aerial aircraft and video security cameras for law enforcement. Motorola Solutions, a major supplier of police technology, has encouraged
local governments to use the new money to buy a range of command center software and video analytics systems.
While the pandemic has coincided with a historic drop in violent crime across the country, analysts have expressed concern that the rapid spread of the virus will fuel confrontations.
There have been multiple inmate riots
in response to Covid-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails, which have become dangerous hotspots for the disease. The economic upheaval and disagreements over coronavirus-related policy have also fueled demonstrations across the country.
The federal funding requests contrast sharply with the rosy rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who has lavished himself
with praise for his response to the crisis and issued optimistic predictions that recovery is around the corner. Last month, the federal government secured a contract to purchase 100,000 body bags
to dispose of deaths related to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In April something was bugging me… a familiarity amid the COVID lock-down status & another time… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until a dear friend reminded me.
Many U.S. states are acting like the early 1980’s and the imposition of Martial law in Poland to target the Solidarity movement. Subsequently I wrote about it on a Twitter thread
, because the parallels were really quite remarkable.
Both Poland circa 1980 and the U.S. friction in 2020, center around fragile economic issues. Both were an outcome of state control; and the key connection is government targeting control over the workers.
In both examples the state took exclusive control of the economic and social state of the citizens, and the courts provided no option for redress. In both examples the state locked down the citizens and would not permit them to interact with each other.
In 1981 the government in Poland initiated Martial Law and citizens were forced to communicate underground. In 2020 a considerable number of U.S. state governments locked-down citizens in similar fashion and banned citizen assembly.
In 1981 in Poland the communist regime used economic psychological pressure, selecting workers permitted to earn wages. Those workers identified as “essential” to the state. In 2020 many State governors selected workers to earn an income by designating them “essential” to the state.
In 1981 in Poland; communication amid the Solidarity Movement was forced underground. In 2020 many oppressive State governors demanded social media remove public content adverse to the interests of the Stay-at-Home confinement orders. Big Tech complied with the authoritarian dictate.
In 1981 Polish authorities arrested anyone organizing protests against the authoritarian state. In 2020 numerous authoritarian officials arrested citizens for non-compliance with unilateral dictates. From a New Jersey governor arresting a woman for organizing a protect; to an Idaho mother arrested for allowing her children to play at a park; to a Texas salon owner arrested for operating her business.
In 1981 Polish authorities had a program for citizens to report subversive activity against the state. Snitching. In 2020 New York City, LA and numerous state and local officials started programs for citizens to report non-compliant activity against the state. Similar snitching.
In both 1981 Poland and 2020 USA we also see media exclusively creating ideological content as propaganda for the interests of the authoritarian state (controlling citizens).
Interestingly, as we begin to see the American people saying “enough”, and openly defying the authoritarian state. There’s another parallel that is comparable, enlightening and quite remarkable.
Just before the authoritarian state in Poland collapsed there was a rapid movement for the citizens to take to the streets in defiance of state control. I remember watching with great enthusiasm as I saw a very determined pole shout on television:
…”we take to the streets and today we realize, there are more of us than them”…
Fast forward more than thirty years later and those glorious voices are prescient. The power of the government comes from the people; or as we say in the U.S. “from the consent of the governed.” Thus the underlying principle behind our defiance.
If the people will lead, the politicians are forced to follow:
If one person refuses to comply, government can and as we have witnessed arrest them. However, if tens of thousands rebuke these unconstitutional decrees, there isn’t a damn thing government can do to stop it…. and they know it.
If one barber shop opens, the owner becomes a target. However, if every barber shop and beauty salon in town opens… there is absolutely nothing the government can do about it.
If one restaurant and/or bar opens, the state can target the owner. But if every bar and restaurant in town opens; and if everyone ignores and dispatches the silly dictates of the local, regional or state officials… there isn’t a damned thing they can do about it.
The power of the local, regional or state authority comes from the expressed consent of the people. As soon as the majority of people deny that consent, those officials and state authoritarians lose all of their power. Yes, it really is that simple.
Go live your best life.
You’re worth it.
PS. Another similarity – ultimately the key control issue, the heart of the battle in Poland, came down to an election finally held in 1989. Likewise the key control issue, the heart of battle in the United States will come down to an election in November 2020.