Michael Brown is dead, a young black man gone before he could start college and begin life as an adult. The life of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Brown, has been forever changed, too. Since the August 8 shooting, protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, have faced a heavy-handed, heavily armed police response. This has prompted much national conversation about both racism and the growing militarization of American police forces.
The latter subject had been getting some attention lately, even before the events in Ferguson. Radley Balko’s book Rise of the Warrior Cop (PublicAffairs, 2013) is a notable example. But as Balko acknowledges, the militarization of the police is not a new development. Over the years, others have noted it as well.