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No thanks, no tanks: LAUSD won’t take any surplus military equipment

Mike Szymanski | August 28, 2017

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Past protests led to stopping one committee meeting.

The White House on Monday rescinded a ban on giving surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, but don’t expect any of it to go to LA Unified.

LA Unified School Police Chief Steve Zipperman issued a terse statement Monday: “LASPD no longer utilizes the 1033 program for military weapons procurement.”

The 1033 program — which school districts in 22 states took advantage of — caused years’ worth of headaches for Zipperman and the school board when the school district acquired 61 rifles, three grenade launchers, and a mini-tank for training purposes in 2015.

Almost immediately, the Labor/Community Strategy Center’s Fight for the Soul of the Cities, a nonprofit civil rights group, began protesting the district for using the Department of Defense 1033 Program that allowed local governmental agencies to acquire the surplus military equipment for free. The Strategy Center protested the district’s possession of the equipment and staged protests, even interrupting a committee meeting.

Their protests continued long after former Superintendent Ramon Cortines ended LA Unified’s participation in the program in June 2015, as the group demanded proof LA Unified had gotten rid of the weapons — and then an apology.

Initially, LA Unified police said they needed to have the equipment, although none was ever used on school campuses. Zipperman, in a May 2016 letter, cited such violent episodes as the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery, the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York as reasons why his 400-person school force needed to “become better equipped and better prepared to protect students, staff, administrators and the school community as a whole against an armed encounter, attack or mass shooting incident in our schools.”

Los Angeles Police will not use the military equipment either because it is unnecessary, a deputy police chief said.

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