So apparently, police using “military”-style gear in Ferguson sounds pretty scary. I googled around for some examples of what they were talking about.
Camouflage pants: Oooh, uniforms are totally scary. Especially when they are of a pattern suited for blending into forest environments. In a city. Police totally overreaching here.
Night vision optics, gas masks: They help you see in the dark and keep you from choking on your own tear gas. Sounds like pretty standard riot gear to me. The same effect could be achieved with giant floodlights but that sounds like something right out of 1984 and people would get spooked out in a completely different way. Also, need lots of wiring. Easier to power night vision (AA batteries).
Gas masks look scary too. I get it. I played Wolfenstein too when I was a kid.
Extra magazines: If this doesn’t strike you as common sense you have either spent too much time playing FPSes, never used a gun in your life, or both. A lot of civilian gun owners carry extra magazines just in case. When they do it nobody cares. When the police do it, scaaary.
Body armor: Oh come on seriously? Body armor and kneepads equate to some kind of militarized police death squad? To me, they equate to not getting hurt by gunfire or random mishaps. I actually heard anecdotal evidence that the police at Ferguson were wearing more body armor than soldiers deployed overseas. That may be true, but it’s also irrelevant. Combat and riot policing are two different kinds of work. I don’t know much about combat, but I think I would rather wear more armor if I was in an enclosed space and the greatest threat was from gunfire rather than roadside bombs. Of course, if we’re talking about protesters throwing molotov cocktails, I’d probably not want to wear any body armor at all; maybe a flame-resistant jumpsuit. Shit’s uncomfortable.
Military rifles: Rifles based on the M-4 Carbine, apparently. You know what else is based on the M-4? The AR-15, available to almost anyone with a clean background and $800, give or take. There is nothing special or more powerful about military rifles compared to civilian rifles. The case could be argued that using rifles instead of, say, pistols, was excessive force but honestly, I wouldn’t start getting scared until they start busting out the M249’s (light machine gun) and M240B’s (medium machine gun).
MRAPs: Really big trucks. I guess they’re scary to look at. Do they do anything that big police trucks don’t do? Not really.
Nonlethal sonic weapons: Okay, so they’re complaining that using a non-lethal sonic weapon designed for riot suppression without killing targets is excessive force? That doesn’t really make sense.
Not that I’m a fan of the Ferguson police or anything, I just happen to have pierced the veil of mystique surrounding tactical gear, which is fetishized to an unhealthy extent by civilians, and am allergic to rampant paranoia. Stop and take some time to think about stuff; the truth is often rather mundane.