Mercenaries In Our Midst?

Mercenaries in Our Midst? By Steve Clemens. July 29, 2009

It looked like they were expecting trouble. The two Eden Prairie police officers each wore the following: a handgun, two additional clips of ammunition, a taser, a collapsible baton, a canister of chemical agent (likely pepper spray), two sets of handcuffs, plus a couple items around their waists I couldn’t readily identify.

Who were they protecting, and why?

Every Wednesday morning from 7-8 AM, a group of 20-40 people, most of them years, if not decades, beyond 50, gather to vigil by the entrance to Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Minnesota’s largest weapons manufacturer. Ever since this war profiteer moved from Edina to Eden Prairie a little more than two years ago, this maker of cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions has hired cops from the local city government to be stationed at the driveway entrance to their corporate headquarters off Flying Cloud Drive, just to the north of Valley View.

Typically, the contingent of two uniformed cops seem armed primarily with just their service weapon holstered at their side so I was quite taken aback by the plethora of weapons displayed around their waists today. Over the past two years there have been several arrests for trespass, most notably the past two Augusts when the company hosts its Annual Shareholders Meeting. All of those arrested at those events were shareholders who had received invitations to attend the meeting only to be told when they arrived that they could not attend and would be arrested if they didn’t leave. Those who were arrested have consistently remained nonviolent.

It is the contention of many of the regular weekly vigilers that some of the weapons made by ATK are illegal under International Humanitarian Law (aka “the rules of war”) because of their indiscriminate nature – weapons which kill or injure civilians, poison or pollute the environment, continue killing long after a war has ended, and/or cause inhumane suffering. The language of international treaties, many of which our nation has not only signed and ratified but in many cases had a major hand in drafting, identify the manufacture, sale, stockpiling, and use of such weapons as “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”- thus making Dan Murphy, the retired Admiral and CEO of ATK a “war criminal”.

So, if the company is hiring “armed enforcers” (off-duty police) to help protect a criminal enterprise and its leader, is it morally different than a drug or mafia kingpin using his thugs to “protect his turf”? When police are hired in this case, is it significantly different than a mercenary, a “hired gun” in the service of a corrupt dictator?

But it still begs the question: why the “overkill” of weapons when “protecting” this company from a group with a long record of nonviolent protest? Does carrying all those weapons encourage their use at some point?

(Thanks to Tom Bottolene of AlliantACTION for the photos)

No comments: