Cleveland police are stocking up on military-style gear before the Republican National Convention, seemingly preparing for the possibility of riots, and it looks like we may have another 1968 on our hands. For those who are unaware, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago was stained with blood when anti-Vietnam War activists and law enforcement clashed in the streets. Heads were dented by swinging batons, and chaos consumed the city. The Republican convention July 18-21 may not reach that level of brutality, but the cops appear to be making sure they’re ready if it does.

We already know some are prepared for battle. “We’re essentially just going to show up and make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs,” Matt Parrott, a spokesman for the white nationalist group Traditionalist Worker Party, told McClatchy DC.

According to a partial list, the Cleveland Division of Police has ordered 2,000 sets of full riot gear, body armor, a video surveillance system and much more for the Republican convention. Tear gas looks to be in the works. Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that Cleveland police will be using these, police use of the cellphone surveillance tool the Stingray and the acoustic crowd dispersal device called the Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD) has become common in these scenarios. LRADs have been known to make people go deaf at close range.

The militarization of the police has been a consistent problem over the past decade. In May, a transparency organization named Open the Books released a report that showed more surplus military gear was transferred to federal, state and local law enforcement in 2014 and 2015 than any years before. Over 1.5 million weapons-related items have gone to law enforcement since 2006. This equipment includes mine-resistant vehicles, M16 and M14 rifles and more.

If Donald Trump becomes president, I fear this sort of police state will become infinitely worse. To be clear, Donald Trump has already called for police departments to receive more military gear.

Let’s look at Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Trump has claimed that to do this we would need a “deportation force” the likes of which we’ve never seen. Despite the fact that many claim deporting 11 million people is nearly impossible, let’s imagine he tried. Do we think everyone would go quietly? Would riots over simply attempting this not ensue? It seems unlikely to me such an act could be carried out without widespread violence and, and a police clamp-down could very well be the reaction.

Sheldon Richman, founder of the popular blog Free Association, has made a similar connection between mass deportations and a bloated police state.

“What will Trump do when targets of deportation take refuge in sanctuary cities and churches?” Richman wrote in an article published by Newsweek. “Will police SWAT teams or the Delta Force storm these places? That will be lovely international publicity for the USA.”

Rich Cromwell, of the conservative website The Federalist, came to this conclusion in an article titled: “Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan: Make America A Police State.”

“In short, the great conservative savior who wants to ‘Make America Great Again’ primarily plans to do so by creating vast new swathes of bureaucracy and swelling the police state,” Cromwell wrote.

Donald Trump is rather fond of law enforcement. When asked about the problems being addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump said in an interview last August that we need to “give the power back to the police.” He has called the police the “most mistreated people” in America. He has also stated that anyone who kills a police officer will immediately get the death penalty under his presidency. I’m not saying he should be anti-police, because there are many valiant officers out there, but his statements make you wonder if he would cultivate much-needed law enforcement accountability.

Donald Trump is also not a pacifist. Let us not forget that Donald Trump is a man who has encouraged his supporters to attack protesters, supports torture and wants to kill the family members of terrorists. This is not a man who is calling for peace and restraint.

If Donald Trump becomes president, we could see more military gear in police departments, harsh crackdowns on immigrant populations and other draconian actions. While many contend he is simply saying what he must to win the election, that concept only further solidifies the point that we do not know what a Trump presidency would bring.

None of this is to say that Donald Trump is hellbent on incarcerating all of his enemies and having standing guards on every street corner, but his rhetoric and policies do reflect the kind of leader who would favor a further militarized police force. Some of his policies may actually demand it.

His campaign did not respond to our request for a comment on how much he might militarize law enforcement. We’ll have to wait and see, if he wins the election.

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