Why Is Our Sheriff’s Dept. Militarizing?

by Andrew Pragracz
In early 2013 the Broome County Sheriff’s department on the initiative of Sheriff David Harder acquired a heavily armored personnel vehicle known in military circles as a Casspir. To millions of black Africans in southern Africa, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa in particular, this vehicle is a symbol of racist oppression and the apartheid regime of South Africa.The Casspir was in fact commissioned by the South African Police force (whose acronym [SAP] forms part of the vehicle’s name along with its developers, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR]) in order to hunt black skins in Northern Namibia and Angola after the passage of UN Security Council resolution 435 in 1978 which called for the withdrawal of South African forces, and free elections in Namibia (what was then called by the colonial oppressors “South West Africa”). The Casspir was intentionally developed to make sure the aforementioned resolution never came to fruition and that Namibia would remain under minority white South African rule. The Casspir was deployed in “the bush,” the sparsely populated plains and rugged terrain of Namibia, and in urban streets.
The most notorious users of the Casspir were the Koevoet, which means “crowbar” in Afrikaans, the language of white South Africans. The Koevoet was a paramilitary/mercenary force that roamed the bush hunting black resistant fighters in Northern Namibia. It was formed in 1979 for similar reasons as the Casspir. They used guerrilla tactics and were paid by the number of people they killed. They used the Casspirs as mobile bases from which to launch attacks and retreat quickly. Internationally renowned for their brutal tactics and disregard for human life, the Koevoet was absorbed back into the SAP in the early 1990s. The Koevoet used the Casspirs to mutilate people, kill life stock, and destroy homes. They were deployed against peaceful resistors, including young children and teachers protesting the placement of black only public schools next to South African military bases(which is illegal.)The Koevoet, along with the gun laden Casspirs, were symbols of apartheid oppression for millions of Namibians and South Africans. One poet immortalized the apartheid regime in South Africa as “tear gas, rubber bullets/Hippos and casspirs.” Another poet, in the poem “Child Crushed by Casspir” recalls a dark night when Casspirs deployed against the “rightless…[those] at the mercy of a ruthless regime” left a child “ragged and mutilated.”
If we can credit a machine with being racist then the Casspir is just that: racist. It was literally designed to kill and oppress blacks. As the past events in Ferguson, Missouri show this is exactly what such a vehicle will be used for here in Broome County. The Koevoet was in fact officially a police force. The Koevoet was armed with the exact same equipment (NOT JUST CASSPIRS!) as our troopers in the Broome County Sheriff Department. THROW AWAY THE CASSPIR and GET THE MLITARY OUT OF OUR POLICE FORCES: NEITHER ONE IS ANY GOOD!


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