Civil unrest across the United States following the deaths of black men at the hands of the police authorities has led President Barack Obama to take some direct action in restricting the equipment available for officers.
According to a report by Reuters, the president has outlined his plans to bring in new restrictions regarding the use of military equipment by members of police departments across the country.
The new plans will see heavy equipment such as explosive resistant vehicles with tacked wheels similar to a tank, being banned by use of the police. Other equipment more normally associated with the military and not the police, including mine resistant ambush protected vehicles and riot shields will be available to police, however they will be forced to provide added justification for their use in the future.
According to Reuters Obama will announce the steps, which are the result of an executive order, during a visit to Camden, New Jersey, where he plans to push efforts to encourage trust-building between police and the communities they serve.
Social and civil unrest began in cities across the United States following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson in Missouri by a police officer. This case led to widespread condemnation of police force and claims of racial discrimination across the country.
After this shooting in Missouri which grabbed the attention of media across the globe there were a series of very well documented police shootings of black men, adding to the tensions. One of these cases included the shooting of Walter Scott, a black man who was shot by police as he tried to escape the scene of a traffic stop in North Charleston in South Carolina.
Another high profile case involved the death of a 25 year old man named Freddie Gray who died after sustaining spinal injuries while in police custody in Baltimore.
According to Reuters, protesters in Ferguson felt the methods used by police to prevent the demonstrations from turning violent were excessive, and the Justice Department has since launched a review of St. Louis County law enforcement’s response to the unrest. Meanwhile, the turmoil in Ferguson and Baltimore also highlighted divisions between black and white Americans.
All of the cases have led to huge questions being asked not only of the level of force being used by police in America but also about race and racism in the country.
A poll by Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the protests in Baltimore, found that 69 percent of respondents said America has a serious issue with race, while almost three-quarters said there is more racism in the United States than the country is willing to admit.