The official Black Lives Matter Twitter account blasted President Joe Biden late last week for “terrorizing” minority communities by allowing local police departments to continue buying surplus and decommissioned military equipment, accusing Biden of selling the equipment to law enforcement at a higher rate than President Donald Trump did.
“Biden’s first 100 days are up in 10 days,” Black Lives Matter’s official account tweeted. “By then we need him to #End1033, which transfers military equipment into the hands of police across the country– including school & campus police. Another example? The military you see out on your streets ahead of the Chauvin verdict.”
“Biden, they continued, “is currently sending more military equipment to our neighborhoods than Trump did. You read that right. Our communities are being terrorized at a greater rate than they had been under Trump.”
The account referenced several cities’ efforts to forestall massive unrest if Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, had been acquitted of Floyd’s murder. Cities like Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois, deployed a full contingent of armed vehicles for crowd control, in an effort to prevent the kind of looting and destruction that took place following Floyd’s death last May.
The tweets, though, are also part of a larger effort to shutter the federal government’s Law Enforcement Support Office, also known as the “1033 Program,” which allows local and state police departments to purchase tanks and other surplus and decommissioned military equipment for use in cities.
“April 30th marks President Biden’s 100th day as president — and we’ve got a major demand for him before that deadline: End 1033,” Black Lives Matter notes on its website. “Here’s what you need to know: The Law Enforcement Support Office, known as the 1033 Program, allows the transfer of surplus military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies across the country. It includes school and campus police, too.”
“Over $7 billion has gone to the law enforcement agencies since its creation under the Clinton administration. Disappointingly enough, the flow of military equipment to police under the 1033 Program has accelerated under the Biden administration,” the group noted. “If we want President Biden to take swift action before his 100th day in office, then we need a lot of voices speaking out right away.”
Language limiting the 1033 program is included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and racial justice organizations had hoped that President Joe Biden would place his own restrictions on military equipment transfers through an early executive order, the way President Barack Obama did back in 2015 (President Donald Trump repealed those restrictions with his own executive order in 2017). Biden passed on the opportunity.
The Defense Logistics Agency, which tracks the 1033 transfers, does note that military to law enforcement transfers were up in the first quarter of 2021 — the first quarter of Biden’s presidency — but it did not specify what equipment was being transferred. The most common items sent to police, according to the activists at “Popular Resistance” were firearm magazines.
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