Americans Oppose Police Militarization, Poll Finds

08/21/2014 12:49 pm ET

Most Americans think it's unnecessary for the police to use military weapons as tools for law enforcement, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

According to the new poll, 28 percent of Americans think it's necessary for police to use military weapons and armored vehicles, while 51 percent think use of such items is going too far.

Democrats in the poll said by a 63 percent to 21 percent margin that they think militarization of local police is going too far, and independents said so by a 52 percent to 26 percent margin. On the other hand, Republicans were more likely to say that police use of military weapons and armored vehicles is necessary than that it's going too far, 44 percent to 34 percent.

A Reason-Rupe poll, which mentioned drones in addition to weapons and armored vehicles, had similar findings in December. In that poll, 37 percent said that such militarization is necessary and 58 percent said it's going too far.

Police militarization has come under fire recently in part because of the reaction of police in Ferguson, Missouri, to protesters there after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white officer Darren Wilson. Officers have used tear gas and armored vehicles among crowds of protesters, and some officers have carried assault rifles.

President Barack Obama spoke on Monday about the Pentagon program that allows local police departments to purchase many of those weapons, saying, "I think it's probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they are purchasing is stuff they actually need."

And Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) announced last week that he would introduce legislation to scale back that program.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 16-17 among 1,000 U.S. adults, including 117 black respondents, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

See updates on the situation in Ferguson below:

08/26/2014 7:49 AM EDT

The Toll On Michael Brown's Family

USA Today's Yamiche Alcindor provides an intimate look at how Michael Brown's parents have been dealing with the loss of their son:

Phones constantly ring with reporters asking for interviews or family members offering support. Last week, as demands reached a tipping point, both parents moved into hotels to shield themselves.

In the days leading up to the funeral, Brown's mother continued to cry and spoke in whispers as she tried to explain her feelings.

"They say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was — just seeing my baby laying there, cold," Lesley McSpadden, 34, told USA TODAY. "It did something to my heart. It's too much. It's too much."

Read the rest at USA Today.

08/26/2014 7:44 AM EDT

New Audio Allegedly Captures Moment Michael Brown Was Shot

New audio has surfaced that allegedly captures the moment when Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, on Aug. 9.

CNN aired the unverified recording on Monday night. Six shots can be heard, followed by a pause, then several more. A private autopsy performed on Aug. 17 at the request of Brown's family found that the 18-year-old was shot 6 times, including twice in the head.

Read the rest here.

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