Grant Sarver June 11, 2020

Recent demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death and police brutality have been the latest example of how the government protects itself. Peaceful demonstrations have been broken up with a combination of riot gear, tear gas, flash bangs, and pepper spray. Such violence brings up the questions where does the government get the equipment from, and how much are they spending on it?

Let’s take the events of June 1 in Lafayette Square outside the White House as an example. Protestors were removed from the area with the previously mentioned tactics by a mix of federal and local law enforcement. Video evidence has shown that tear gas made by Defense Technology was used. Further research found that Defense Technology as well as its parent company, Safariland, are frequent contractors of the federal government. 

A CBS MoneyWatch report found that Safariland has made $137 million in federal contracting awards in the past 3.5 years. This does not even include state and local government purchases. The company and its subsidiary make items such as tear gas, body armor, batons, pepper spray, rubber bullets, shields, and more. 

The report also found that the non-lethal weapons market is expected to grow to $8.4 billion this year. According to GovDirections, states like California and Mississippi are actively seeking body armor and riot gear. The federal government in Virginia and Pennsylvania are also looking for face shields. Requests for these proposals can be found here.

With cities spending large amounts of money on their police departments, activists have called for the police to be defunded. They argue that the money should be invested elsewhere, particularly in social services like education and affordable housing. Since the federal government is still in a political standstill, expect change to come from the ground up as each locality reevaluates what it thinks is best for all of its people. 


About the Author

Grant Sarver is from Suwanee, Georgia. He is currently an undergraduate pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in International Affairs and Sociology at the University of Georgia with an expected graduation in December 2020. He is most interested in human rights and social equality and plans to work for an entity that helps fulfill people’s human rights.