It didn’t take long for a conservative blog to connect the U.S. military’s upcoming “Jade Helm 15” training exercise to President Barack Obama’s order Monday that banned certain military-grade equipment from being given to local law enforcement agencies.
Michele Hickford, the editor-in-chief of former Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) website, noted the timing of the President’s order and the military exercise, which some people believe is a cover for the implementation of martial law, in a blog post published Monday.
“With the upcoming ‘Jade Helm’ military exercises planned throughout the southwest this July in civilian areas, some folks are concerned the federal government has grander plans than simply a practice session,” Hickford wrote. “‘Federalizing the police’ seems to come up in conversation – particularly since the Obama administration has been so uncomfortable with local law enforcement actually doing its job (quelling violent riots, looting and mayhem) in recent months.”
Obama announced Monday that the federal government will no longer provide armored or weaponized vehicles, grenade launchers, or firearms and ammunition of .50-caliber or higher; the transfer of certain other military-style equipment to local law enforcement will also be limited. The move is meant to tackle police militarization in the wake of unrest last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.
The announcement also came after an interagency group found there was a “substantial risk” that local law enforcement agencies would misuse or overuse items like tracked armored vehicles, high-powered firearms and camouflage, thus undermining communities’ trust in police, according to the Associated Press.
Hickford was skeptical of that finding, noting that no “specific incidences were cited, mind you. Just that maybe down the road there COULD be.”
“The way I look at it, if you announce to people with bad intentions that you probably don’t have the full arsenal of equipment to fight back, you are inviting even more bad behavior,” she wrote.
Twitter users seized on the post as evidence that Obama’s order was an effort to ramp up federal control of the police ahead of the planned military exercise:
— CountingWHScandals (@Westxgal) May 18, 2015
One step closer to government control. http://t.co/J5m8e9JdRx
— Matt Locke (@mattlockeshow) May 18, 2015