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Police arrest protesters at Occupy Oakland
The protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement took to the streets to draw attention to corporate greed and the uneven distribution of wealth in the United States. In the end most media attention they got wasn't for their economic messages, but for the extreme treatment that they suffered at the hands and boots of the police. If the protesters can't expose corruption in the highest echelons of the banking system, perhaps they can expose the much more pressing and perhaps frightening development in the United States: The extreme militarization and illegal tactics of the police in the United States.

Over the years, the escalation of the "War on Drugs" has lead to increasing number of police stations across the country to begin training their officers in the use of more sophisticated weaponry and tactics. Due to fear mongering on all levels of government, the United States citizenry has sat silent over the years, believing that the increasing military style presence of the police all around them was for their own protection.

So when I show up to a peaceful protest in my hometown of Atlanta only to have it broken up by what I could only describe as black-clad, club wielding storm troopers, I begin to worry. So in this, our beautiful "land of the free", what are the freedoms that we hold so dear? Our freedom of speech is threatened. The government is voting on things like SOPA and Net Neutrality in order to limit our access to information online. Our freedom of press is limited. Media conglomerates control our media, and use their influence to seek private gains. Our freedom of religion is suppressed. Muslims in our nation are treated as outsiders and terrorists. And now we finally know that our greatest strength, our freedom to peaceful assembly is being slowly chipped away.

Overseas, we condemn the use of force against peaceful protesters. When demonstrations break out in the middle east, the White House is quick to hold a press conference where they "urge" the leaders of the country to "use restraint" when dealing with the protesters. At home, our police are using tactics and weaponry that our Marines in Iraq are prohibited from using on peaceful demonstrators.

In many countries, police are unarmed and drive highly visible vehicles painted in reflective paint. They wear reflective vests and are trained to be approachable and friendly so that they can better serve the citizens in their area. Now consider the police here in Atlanta. They dress in all black with a firearm on their hip. They drive supercharged cars with dark paint jobs and black tinted windows. I don't know about you, but the police officers here in Atlanta don't look very approachable to me; they look more like they are about to invade Poland.

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UCLA students pepper sprayed by police
In Oakland, Marine Scott Olsen received brain damage and was hospitalized after being struck in the head with a "less than lethal" 40mm tear gas projectile at the Occupy Oakland protest. Do you know why the police refer to them as "less than lethal" weapons? They are not legally allowed to call them "non-lethal" weapons because these weapons can still kill you. Or how about the elderly woman who was pepper sprayed in the face at Occupy Seattle? Or the students who where seated peacefully with interlocked arms who were pepper sprayed by an officer with such a casual swagger that it became an internet meme? When will it alarm people that the police are so ready to use these weapons against demonstrators? When the police are so ready to use these weapons on peaceful demonstrators, they are not serving or protecting our interests.

Our media is even actively coming to the defense of the police and the tactics being used. Fox News has accused Occupy movements of running "rape camps" and hiding "weapons caches" in parks. A demonized movement is an easily suppressed movement. Megyn Kelly came to the defense of police officers using pepper spray by saying it is "essentially" a food product. The complacency of the media when it comes to the clearly coordinated actions of the police is worrying.

So next time you are driving along as a law abiding citizen and you get that twinge of fear when you see the dark police cruiser glide up behind you, ask yourself this: What has gone wrong when you fear the ones who are meant to protect you?