The Conservative Koch Brothers Join Liberals and Democrats Against Militarized Police

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Democrats have long loathed the conservative billionaires, but they’re united on one topic, at least: militarized police. How the Kochs are working to prevent the next Ferguson.

The convergence of the progressive left and libertarian right over police demilitarization is yielding a liberal-tarian moment—and it’s brought to you by the Koch brothers.

Groups on the left have been among the loudest voices condemning police actions in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown this month. But the Koch brothers, boogeymen of national Democrats, have long funded libertarian groups that laid the intellectual groundwork for opposing police militarization, a phenomenon that now has been discussed and denounced much more widely.

The militarization of police in particular is an issue the Koch brothers view as necessary to tackle and which they have spent years fighting, a spokesman said.

“We need to address issues such as overcriminalization, excessive and disproportionate sentencing, inadequate indigent defense that is inconsistent with the Sixth Amendment, and the militarization of police,” Mark Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries Inc., told The Daily Beast. “We have deep respect for the moral dignity of each and every person and because of this, we’ve worked for decades to support those who defend the full range of individual rights.”

Radley Balko, The Washington Post reporter who wrote the book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, stands virtually peerless as a writer on the issue. He got his start at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank originally named the Charles Koch Foundation, before moving on to Reason magazine, which also receives money from the Koch brothers.

“Balko has been a kind of one-man category creator on this stuff,” said Reason editor in chief Matt Welch. “Reason did police stuff before, but he really popularized it as a topic institutionally at both Reason and Cato, and created a subgenre of what I call ‘Radley Balko libertarians.’”

Other writers, scholars, and speakers at Reason and Cato have followed in Balko’s footsteps, railing about police tactics and equipment. In short, say those funded by the Kochs, they have been sounding the alarm against the militarization of police for longer, and more persistently, than the left.

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SOURCE: Tim Mak 
The Daily Beast

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