StreetscapeJanuary 29th, 2008

There was a photo in a recent edition of my local paper, The Hartford Courant, that’s worth a look. Here’s the link: http://www.courant.com/media/photo/2008-01/34806412.jpg (I asked for permission to insert the picture in this article, but the paper wouldn’t give it to me [last time I checked on 2/8, the pic was gone.  It showed what looked like three heavily armed soldiers in camouflage fatigues accompanying a handcuffed man in his twenties.  The man wore an undershirt.  There was snow on the ground.  One of the soldiers was masked.  All carried automatic rifles and wore military helmets.]).

The photo isn’t a picture of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the men with the assault rifles are not soldiers. They are officers of the Hartford Police Department and they are effecting an arrest for possession of marijuana. Clearly, the shirtless offender is on parade for the camera.

If you don’t live in a neighborhood like the one in the picture, you probably don’t have storm troopers on your streets, but to the children, parents, and grandparents who populate such neighborhoods, this isn’t an unfamiliar sight. They (and we) are under occupation by a heavily armed paramilitary force, and our leaders want us all to know that.

Notice the similarity between the helmets worn by the men in the picture and the helmets worn by the Nazi troopers of 70 years ago. Notice also that they are in camouflage fatigues, a transparent intimidation tactic, since jungle camouflage doesn’t work on urban streets. One is masked. A shooter without an identity. Even the Gestapo showed their faces.

And this is the face of my city. It depicts a scene of martial law, in brazen violation of fundamental principles of republican government. Do our leaders fancy themselves stronger because they can order this sort of thing on a whim?

I’m sure this scene is repeated in cities across the country. Citizens would almost certainly rise up in protest if they didn’t believe they could be shot for it. We should get rid of the petty dictators who preside over this before they roll in the artillery pieces and armored vehicles.