Scenes from militarized America

In Birmingham, Ala., police launch a heavy-handed SWAT raid on a massage parlor.

Check the photos. Assault-style weapons. Masks that completely obscure the officers’ faces. Battle-dress uniforms. A battering ram.

You’d think they were taking down the Sinaloa drug cartel. Instead, they took down a shop where a few women are suspected of providing “extras” after giving massages.

But it isn’t just Birmingham. A couple years ago, I wrote about a similar raid in Houston. And here’s a screen cap from a raid on another spa last fall in Lebanon, Tenn.:

SpaRaid

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."

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Radley Balko · February 24, 2014