July 9, 2020
Wayne McElrath and Mandy Smithberger, Opinion contributors
On Thursday, the House Armed Services Committee will finally hear from the Pentagon’s top officials about the use of military force by civilian law enforcement, including clearing Lafayette Square in front of the White House of peaceful protesters to enable a photo op for the president.
It’s an overdue reckoning on the damage created by the Pentagon’s influence on community policing. Let’s hope that the top leaders not only talk about what they regret from that day — Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has already stated that he shouldn’t have been a part of the photo op — but also take ownership of the role the Pentagon played in getting us here. Cutting the organization’s budget is a must for police reform.
Over the past month, peaceful protesters have taken to the streets. Instead of protecting and serving the millions who called for the transformation of law enforcement, many police departments used violence and intimidation. To complete this war-like image, police officers have appeared in head-to-toe military gear alongside armored vehicles and military-grade protections.