Missouri Unrest Prompts Some GOP to Advocate for Police Restraint

Image: Fancy Farm
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., waits to speak at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. A fundraiser for a small Roman Catholic church in western Kentucky, the two-day picnic in the tiny town of Fancy Farm is a throwback to the days before television, when stump speeches were the candidates' main vehicle to reach voters. AP

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The images of camouflage-clad police wielding high-powered rifles that have poured in from Ferguson, Missouri this week have prompted some Republicans, a party that has traditionally championed “tough on crime” policies, to speak out about the need for restraint from law enforcement.

Chief among those is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who on Thursday wrote an op-ed warning of “the increasing militarization of the police.”

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“The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action,” he wrote.

Paul’s views are hardly surprising. The libertarian has been an outspoken critic of overreaching government surveillance and has called for the U.S. to decrease its military presence overseas.

But Paul is not the only member of the GOP advocating for police restraint. After two reporters were detained by police, Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz wrote on Facebook, “Reporters should never be detained -- a free press is too important -- simply for doing their jobs. Civil liberties must be protected, but violence is not the answer.”

Though the calls for a more moderate police reaction have not been universal for all conservatives. Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Republican with a history of controversial comments, said African-Americans reacting to the Michael Brown shooting should “straighten up and fly right.”