The socially-conservative former Governor Mike Huckabee is hardly known for his libertarian positions on the issues. In fact, he once referred to libertarianism as the “greatest threat to classic Republicanism.” However, a nationwide debate on police militarization has emerged after Americans were shocked to see the Ferguson Police Department, armed to the teeth with military-style gear, cracking down on protesters of the Michael Brown shooting, members of the media, and bystanders in images on the evening news that looked like footage from a war zone overseas. In light of this and a few other recent examples, Huckabee appears to have joined what is a rising chorus of Republicans taking a long-held libertarian position and criticizing the militarization of American police forces.
On the August 16 episode of Huckabee on Fox News, the former governor pointed out a series of injustices carried out at the hands of over-militarized police departments across the US, “In 2011, federal agents, accompanied by SWAT teams, raided the Gibson guitar factory and headquarters in Nashville, threatening and frightening workers and confiscating wood, claiming that it was imported illegally. Criminal charges were threatened, never filed. There are also countless incidences of SWAT teams raiding homes and battering down doors, mistakenly shooting and injuring grandmothers and little kids, even killing pets. Earlier this year, police searching for a drug dealer in Atlanta threw a flash grenade into a home that landed in a toddler’s crib. The boy known locally as Baby Boo Boo had half his chest and face blown off and spent weeks in a hospital in a medically-induced coma. A woman in Evansville, Indiana has sued the city’s police department after its SWAT team smashed through her front door and threw flash grenades at her home, just to serve a search warrant two years ago. The eleven officers, looking for evidence after an anonymous internet post threatened the local police chief, found only the 68-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter in the house and handcuffed them, and they didn’t find any evidence in the search.”
The episode featured an interview with conservative Christian author Cheryl K. Chumley on her book Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality. Huckabee posed the following question to Chumley, “Now look, I’m a pro law enforcement guy. I’m a law-and-order kind of guy. I think we ought to support the police. I think, you know, they do dangerous jobs on our behalf, and I’m behind them 100%, but have we crossed a line in some areas with what’s called the militarization of police?”
Chumley replied, “Definitely, and I think all of America is pro-police… but there is a simple solution: when you kill somebody innocent, when you kill and maim a toddler, when you kill a 26-year-old marine in Arizona, and then you just go on the next day, business-as-usual, using the same military type grade equipment on the civilian streets of America, that’s where the line should be drawn and that’s where we should say, ‘enough, no more.'”
Huckabee also asked Chumley whether she thought the surplus military equipment donated to police departments by the DOD was being used “because we have it or because we need it?” Chumley offered, “I would say because we have it. You know, the War on Drugs has brought a lot of this equipment straight off the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq into civilian police forces for free or for grant dollars through the Department of Homeland Security. Once these law enforcement officials have it, they need to train with it. They need to justify its use, and that’s why we’re finding so many law enforcement officials nowadays across communities of America using armored vehicles and flashbang grenades to do things like warrants for drug suspects.”
Chumley concluded the segment by pointing out the fact that officer safety has become a priority over citizens’ rights, which she described as a “military mindset.” Said Cheryl K. Chumley, “…serve and protect the American public, the taxpayers who are paying your salary, that mindset is long gone, and we need to recapture that.”