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Police Are Big Recipients of Pentagon's Surplus Gear and Weapons

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    A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb.

    Local law enforcement around the country have received more than $4.3 billion worth of military equipment through the Department of Defense. Under the department's 1033 program, law enforcement can purchase surplus military gear with grant money from the Department of Homeland Security. No where has this military-grade weaponry been more visible recently than in Ferguson, Missouri, where heavily armed police officers on military vehicles peered out of night-vision goggles as they attempted to control protests over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. It's still unclear if any of the equipment seen in Ferguson came through the 1033 program, but NBC News reports that it most likely came from the Pentagon.

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