While the nation engages in a long overdue discussion about policing and minorities, catalyzed by yet another innocent Black person — George Floyd — killed by law enforcement, we need to remember another group that has suffered overly zealous policing: Muslims.
Many of the worst dynamics at play now, including the militarization of police, were heightened in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and have made blameless Muslims prime suspects. While we engage in critical changes to the policing of Black Americans, we must work to ensure that Muslim Americans also benefit.Ads by TeadsADVERTISING
The use of law enforcement to subjugate, marginalize and persecute Black Americans is centuries old. In the 20th century, this occasionally intersected with Islamophobia, as when J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation surveilled the Nation of Islam in concert with local police departments. But antagonistic policing of Muslims — Black and non-Black alike — has broadened significantly with the war on terror, which redoubled the militarization of police departments.
The rearmament of the police through federal programs such as the 1033 Program, which has allowed police departments to receive military hardware, emerged initially in the 1990s from the war on drugs. After 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security prominently expanded this program by offering grants to state and local law enforcement agencies, distributing equipment worth $7.4 billion among 8,000 agencies.