When asked about the use of heavy, military-grade equipment by police against recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik voiced his approval, saying "It's absolutely needed."
Ex-con Bernie Kerik
In an appearance on CNN's State of the Union yesterday morning, Kerik was brazen in his support of the actions taken by local St. Louis County law enforcement to suppress and subdue large-scale nightly protests in response to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Sunday, August 9th. "The police can't be afraid to do their job, shouldn't be afraid to do their job, you know, and we have to get away from this political correctness," Kerik said (transcript).
Kerik, who was released from prison last year after doing time for tax fraud, accepting gifts and lying to feds on his Director of Homeland Security application, focused his comments on the sporadic lootings that have taken place in Ferguson. "There was personal and—or property that was damaged. The police have to respond to that.
"You can't let the thugs take over the city," Kerik added. "The police can do their job, but when the thugs try to take over the community, the police have to act and do whatever they have to do to keep the peace."
Kerik also appeared to be somewhat sympathetic to Wilson's case, saying "He's going through extreme mental torture right now. Kerik continued:
His life is going to be flipped upside down. He's going to be tortured by the community. He's going to be tortured by the press and media. Every bit of his life from grammar school up is going to be scrutinized until this goes before a grand jury, and a determination is made whether the killing was justified or not.
Wilson, a 6-year police veteran, remains uncharged in connection to Brown's shooting.
The repeated nightly use of tear gas and rubber bullets against both protesting citizens and members of the press has been well-documented by journalists on the scene in Ferguson, and numerous images of police in gas masks confronting protestors with military-grade rifles have surfaced in recent days.
Last night on his program Last Week: Tonight, Jon Oliver offered a moving counterpoint to Kerik and others who stand in approval of heavily-equipped, militarized police forces. "The point is, if you are a cop in the United States, you should dress for the job you have, not the job you want, because if you have all this equipment it's going to go to your head."
A protest "in solidarity with the people of Ferguson" has been planned for 5:30 p.m. tonight at NYPD Police Plaza, followed by a march to City Hall. According to a press release, the gathering will "declare solidarity with the corageous peoples' uprising in Ferguson against the racist attacks by the police" and will include pushback against both the killing of Eric Garner, who died last month while in NYPD custody and Mayor de Blasio's request that New Yorkers do not resist arrest. Information about the Police Plaza protest can be found on facebook.
At press time Missouri National Guard troops are en route to Ferguson following an order from Governor Jay Nixon.