Under what circumstances, if at all, should the capacity for force and intimidation be deployed against the public by the state? This becomes controversial when one wants to answer that the capacity should be preventative rather than responsive.
Responsive force entails responding to a situation where public safety is being threatened.
On the other hand, preventative force and intimidation is far more problematic from a civil liberties perspective because it is the police force itself introducing the element of disruption into the civil equation. When a massive force rolls into Ferguson during a peaceful rally in the middle of the day, can we really say this doesn’t result in intimidation, at the least, and antagonism, at the worst? Does the presence of intimidating MRAPs, military-esque rifles, and costumed-up police force have no effect on the public to which it is directed?
And for those inclined to say “yes” there is no effect, I respond: standard gun safety rules dictate that you DO NOT point your gun at something you are not prepared to shoot. Do you really think you have the right to free speech or free assembly when you are, literally, in the state’s crosshairs?
All emphasis mine. Via The PJ Tatler » A Preventative, Militarized Police Force Is a Threat to Free Speech.