by Tristan Worthington
Gainesville’s own chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is actively fighting this semester to make their 2014–2015 campaign, “Demilitarize UF,” a success. Lead organizers have worked in collaboration with other student and community groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), UF Libertarians, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), to raise awareness about the Federal 1033 Program and the increasing militarization of police forces in local communities and on college campuses. This campaign is synchronous with similar campaigns taken on by SDS chapters at FSU and USF.
The 1033 Program, also known as the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, was founded in 1997 as a means for law enforcement agencies across the country to strengthen the war on drugs. Since 1997, over five billion dollars’ worth of military equipment has been transferred to local and state police departments, including an armored personnel carrier to the University of Florida, grenade launchers to the University of Central Florida, etc.