Senior citizen killed at home watching baseball. Infants, pregnant women mistreated. SWAT cops, way out of control
Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014
Last week, Alecia Phonesavanh penned an essay for Salon called “A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son,” describing the nightmare she and her family suffered during a Special Weapons and Tactics raid that left her toddler in critical condition.
“After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside,” Phonesavanh writes. “It landed in my son’s crib.”
Three weeks later, Phonesavanh’s son, Bounkham (fondly nicknamed “Bou Bou”), remains hospitalized, still covered in burns and with a hole in his chest that leaves the white of his ribs exposed. His injuries are said to be life-threatening.
The shock of the incident still lingers:
I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.
The trauma inflicted on the Phonesavanh household is part of a growing trend taking place in police departments across the country: Law enforcement is increasingly deploying paramilitary forces to raid and terrorize neighborhoods.
According to a recent study conducted by the ACLU, “American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.”
The use of such tactics, according to the ACLU, drastically increases the risk of needless violence and the unnecessary destruction of property, while completely undermining constitutional protections for individual liberties.
The report outlines more than “800 SWAT deployments conducted by 20 law enforcement agencies during the years 2011-2012.” Often times, law enforcement is using SWAT to search people’s homes for drugs. According to data released by law enforcement agencies, 62 percent of deployments were for drug searches. Not surprisingly, many of the casualties of such raids have been suffered by communities of color.