‘Brave’ SWAT Squad Races to School, Then Waits 40 Minutes as Parents Scream for Action

In the Uvalde Elementary School mass shooting of 19 children we had on display the true nature of SWAT units,  those  Special Weapons and Tactics cops trained to take on the most dangerous of criminals and terrorists, but who are always thinking first of their own safety.

The SWAT squad got to the school in force quite promptly, but then, to the consternation and fury of neighbors and parents — who were screaming at them to “Stop it! and “What are you doing — get inside the building!” — they stayed safely back. (In fact, if they did anything at all it was fight off and tackle frantic  parents trying to get to the school!)

An unarmed Amadou Diallo was slaughtered 47 years ago while standing on his front stoop, hit by 40 bullets fired by four frightened police undercover officers.

A few days ago, an 18-year-old whacked-out kid armed with two assault rifles shot was given 40 uninterrupted minutes in a locked classroom to kill 19 fourth grade kids and two teachers while the SWAT officers who were suited up in their body armor waited patiently for someone to get them a key to open the door to the room.  They didn’t run and get one of those battering rams they so routinely use to break in the front door of houses to serve a warrant for a missed court or to conduct a surprise drug search. They didn’t just kick the door in or shoot out the lock.

They waited.  For a key.

By the time they finally went in to shoot and killed the gunman inside, his killing spree was over. He’d had all the time he needed to do what his sick mind intended.

Why do communities and cities waste all that money creating terminator squads in their communities that, when the moment when they are really needed arrives, they just stand around waiting for the ammo to run out, or for the killer to commit suicide?

There is really only one answer:  The people who choose to be on SWAT units are not brave. They are not like the firefighters who, arriving at the scene of a burning house, apartment building, shopping mall or factory, as soon as they hear there may be people inside, just run into the inferno without hesitation to try and save those lives.  Not SWAT crews. They wait, just as they did as the killings went on and on at Columbine High School 23 years ago.

Oh, the SWAT cops are pretty brave when the job is a warrant to serve, or a search for drugs. Then they might toss a flash-bang grenade or two through a window, fire some shots through the door, and charge in, terrorizing everyone in the home, maybe killing innocents in the process.

But when it is a barricaded killer — even a killer of small children — and is someone carrying an automatic weapon, they aren’t so courageous.

That’s when we see that cop mentality at work. Like those cops outside of Diallo’s apartment building who saw him fumbling for his wallet and thought “He might be going for a gun! I fear for my life!  Better shoot him!”  and so all four of the assembled cops empty their revolvers into him. Their expressed fear was all they needed to avoid punishment for killing an unarmed man just trying to get into his apartment after a day of work.

If SWAT units cannot rescue a classroom filled with 10-year-olds being murdered mercilessly one by one then why do we even have them?

Ordinary police can stand around waiting just as well as SWAT officers, and they don’t cost as much.  And without the SWAT units raiding people’s homes at 4 in the morning, we’d have a lot fewer unarmed citizens being shot and killed by police.

I’d say Uvalde or whatever Texas police departments dispatched those useless SWAT-trained officers should fire every one of them for dereliction of duty.

A couple of regular cops who responded to the scene first did exchange fire with the attacker in the school and were shot. They are heroes for trying to stop him. So is the School Safety officer who allegedly confronted him.

But the SWAT units at the scene are simply a disgrace. They only serve to demonstrate why the entire concept, developed in Los Angeles by the LAPD in the ’70s and metastasized across the US since then,  encouraged by absurd Hollywood depictions of heroic men (and women) dressed like Terminators and sporting assault rifles, taking on heavily armed drug armies and terrorists without a thought given to their own safety.

The truth is much sadder and more maddening.

Just as American troops get called heroes for calling in their First World weapons of mass destruction, from drone-fired Hellfire missiles to cluster bombs and thermobaric bombs to slaughter Third World peasants and urban fighters defending their own lands with AKs and home-made explosives,  SWAT cops get lionized for beating on and killing people — sometimes even raiding the wrong address. Meanwhile,  as now, when it really is the time for a SWAT response, they can be counted on only to diddle around waiting for the shooting to stop before going in.

Too late guys. The kids are all dead. Their teachers too.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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