by Dan Handelman

In the wake of the shooting death of Officer Colleen Waibel, and citing a shoot-out in Los Angeles in which officers were killed by high-powered assault rifles, Portland Police have requested that the City of Portland step up their firepower. They are requesting 166 to 175 military-style assault rifles, AR-15s, to the tune of $310,000.

In case you've forgotten, this is how the arms race worked: The U.S. would build a big nasty weapon, the Russians would build a similar weapon, and the U.S. would insist it needed to build an even bigger weapon in case Russia used the first one. This went on and on until people accepted that our country has a $3 trillion debt and spends $260 billion on the military every year (despite the end of the Cold War).

Now, cops are duplicating this practice with the help of the U.S. military, which happily supplies used equipment to local authorities (see "Rapping Back" in PPRs #11 & 13).

Even the Oregonian's gushing Feb. 17 editorial, "Boost police firepower," acknowledged that police having such weapons probably wouldn't have changed the outcome of the Dons incident.

The Mayor is quoted in the editorial as saying the state legislature should create laws to "prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands." To make another global parallel, the U.S. supplied Iraq with much of the weaponry they now wish to destroy, because Iraq was a U.S. ally up until the "Gulf War." Nobody can predict whose are the "wrong hands," and with Portland Police shooting three people in two days this January, just whose hands are "right" becomes a very subjective question.

Portland's budget process should begin in late April. The $310,000 is expected to be included in the Mayor's proposed budget.
Testimony will be taken at Council and through mail (1220 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97204)
and e-mail (mayorkatz@ci.portland.or.us; francesconi@ci.portland.or.us; hales@europa.com; gkafoury@ci.portland.or.us; Esten@ci.portland.or.us).

For more information on the global arms race, contact Peace and Justice Works' Pentagon PorkBusters at (503) 236-3065.

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