Ferguson officials are being forced by the Obama administration to return two military vehicles that it obtained from the Pentagon, amid widespread concern and criticism over the deployment on U.S. streets of equipment intended for war zones, The Guardian reports. The Defense Department will reclaim a pair of Humvees that were given to the beleaguered St. Louis suburb under a controversial program to distribute surplus weapons, vehicles and other gear. “They have simply informed us they will be taking them back,” said Ferguson spokesman Jeff Small. Several Humvees from regional police forces were among the military vehicles seen on the streets of Ferguson last summer as officers cracked down on protests over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
The police actions were condemned by leaders such as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who said “We need to demilitarize this situation.” “The Ferguson police department officially has two Humvees on their books; the state coordinators provided the police department two more Humvees without following the proper transfer protocol,” said Pentaton spokesman Mark Wright. Even after President Obama, prompted by Ferguson, ordered a government-wide review of the provision of military hardware to police, lethal weaponry, vehicles, equipment and cash continue to funnel down to local departments, only now with more layers of red tape.