At the ’68 Democratic Convention, police were fine with a simple club and a little helmet protection for the ol noggin’. They even had short sleeves on. Light, breezy, looking good bashing hippies! I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but someone decided at some point that police should look more like shock troops from novels read by paranoid militiamen in Idaho; that that was a good idea.
After 9/11, you will recall, we went insane. Lots of regrettable things happened. One of those was lavishing tiny towns with pallets of Homeland Security cash to buy storm trooper outfits and sound cannons. We needed to prepare for anything. Except economic collapse.
I’ve been seeing riot cops on a weekly basis as I attend Occupy Portland actions, always dispatched to a scene with a noticeable lack of riot. The amount of protection they wear seems excessive even for a riot–they are prepared for war. Now that they have cleared out most of the encampments, we are hearing a lot complaining about the cost of cleaning up after Occupiers. The massively overblown operations using all sorts of expensive toys never needed in a sane society cleared out the camps and, boy, those protesters sure did a number. Grass needs replanted and I think the city might even pay someone a halfway decent wage to do it.