Saturday, April 26, 2008

RoboCop Now: The Militarization of "Homeland" Police

The dystopian security situation of Metro Detroit depicted in RoboCop (1987) is getting way closer to reality. Thanks to Department of Homeland Security grants of tax payers' money (and Chinese creditors), local police are acquiring high tech weapons systems like the General Purpose Vehicle (GPV) pictured above and recently in the Detroit News. Cost per unit: $542,000. Forget the Hummer, this cumbersome contraption gets 7 miles per gallon but supposedly could operate in NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) conditions. Doesn't that bring joy to the hearts of struggling ordinary citizens? The Warren Police Department has already deployed "The Sergeant," even while the number of human officers there and elsewhere have been reduced since 9/11. Now we can live in trepidation just like ordinary Iraqis! We can enjoy technologically enhanced harassment at border crossings coming back from Canada (which as we all know has been a constant menace since the War of 1812) or flying to another city within the USA. Land of the free, home of the brave. And WTF, the Macomb County Sheriff's Department also has on hand an M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. . . . .

RoboCop posits police and security operations privatized and controlled by Omni Consumer Products (OCP) and damn if this doesn't seem eerily like the present (who can tell the difference between the government and "private security" enterprises any more?). Just make sure you aren't labelled a "criminal" or "bad guy" a la the moronic language used by US and Iraqi military mouthpieces. Let's not forget that one of the black letter signs of fascism is, in Umberto Eco's words, "impoverished vocabulary." (Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, 1995).

For more on such real life RoboCop developments, see: Francis X. Donnelly and Charles E. Ramirez, "The Sergeant: It's one mean fighting machine, but some police departments would just like to have more officers," The Detroit News, 4/24/2008 and Norb Franz, "Force is with cops. Built in New Haven, armored rig seats 12, costs $542,000," Macomb Daily, 4/3/2008: ("To some criminals, the 33,000-pound vehicle that seats up to 12 may appear imposing: a battering ram on the front, 24 feet long, 8 1/2 feet tall, flat black paint with no decals and 10 weapon ports, all sitting on six wheels.")

I don't mind the idea of behind the scenes special operations (as in 007 tales) when necessary -- but when excessive force gets thrown in our faces, one must wonder whether 1) "The terrorists have won," and 2) Is this another example of squandering finite resources? I certainly don't want to see Predator Drones firing Hellfire missiles in my neighborhood. Detroit is already too close to being treated like the Gaza Strip. Enough is enough. Back it off, man.

Today's Rune: Growth.


Anonymous said...

Mohammed Atta came in through Canada. Don't joke about it.--Patton

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, but Canada has been nursing a grudge ever since. They could invade at any time.

Johnny Yen said...

I've argued with friends for the last 20 years that Robocop was a brilliant political commentary about how fascism would come to America. Seriously. And here it is.

the walking man said...

Eat shit Patton. This isn't a joke.

Excellent article you wrote here. Yea folks who read it, it is true and I have seen the mentioned behemoths for myself. Never had to stand in front of one yet, though. I have seen them on Brush when the static CC left the garage door open too long, this thing travels with the Mobile Command Center, which is Gray Hound Bus size.

While currently in a rough truce, since 1967, there has been great animosity between the police and the citizens of Detroit. For awhile there the police feared the policed because even though no-one hardly is aware of the second amendment, this town still makes Charlton Heston beam down from his mighty moses throne.

Don't be outside or within the city limit on New Years or the 4th of July unless you have a basement to be in. And for God's and your own sake, don't be on the second floor of your house.

But to the betterment of the governed right now and for the immediate future; city government is and will remain in stasis because of the mayor's thing.

And now the realpolitik is coming to play with anonymous attacks on the prosecutor via robocalls about her integrity and the prosecutor firing back by shutting down the Police Ballistics lab for shoddy, shady practices.

Weeeehaaa there is hope for the future here we are now coming out of the "dark ages" of our past and compare favorably with Chicago of the prohibition/depression era.

If they ever deploy this half million dollar monster against the citizens, believe me it will be an un-calculated knee jerk response to something, just so they can show the force to the people. Most of whom will ignore it beyond going to check their own ammo stash. best


Sidney said...

Robocop sure isn't the movie you'd hope to become reality.

Erik Donald France said...

Thank y'all for the comments!

Anon, I live in the land of the free, home of the brave. How about you?

Charles, ya-ha :->

JY, Exactly true!

WM/Mark, I'll get the flak jacket and headgear out and keep to the Bunker after dark those nights.

Sidney, no doubt.

JR's Thumbprints said...

None of this is necessary on the evil bad guys I deal with; they're not too bright as it is.

t said...

Run for something, Erik, please? Detroit could use some love and sense.

Lana Gramlich said...

I agree with this post. Not only are we turning into a Robocop world, if you REALLY look around, we're already living in Orwell's "1984," where labels typically mean their opposite (particularly in advertising & the "news.") We've had a military presence in New Orleans since Katrina, more or less. It's always a surreal sight & is also part of the reason I don't venture over to New Orleans, anymore.
Remember our Constitution, the legal framework of the United States? Remember the 4th amendment? I miss the 4th amendment & wonder which one's next.
Sometimes I understand why so-called "kooks" form compounds & stockpile food, water & weapons. Of course, Homeland Security will probably have this comment picked out by a filtering computer somewhere & I'll be labelled an "enemy combatant" & monitored, at least. Freedom of speech my fat ass. <:(

Charles; Nursing a grudge? We kicked your ASS in 1812! You want some more, maybe? Come get it, big boy! ;)

Bubs said...


Don't get me started on the militarization of policing.