Marines for riot control : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

A good friend in the Army has a sergeant who used to be a Marine. During the L.A. riots they were called out for riot control. Personally I didn't know the Marines were allowed to do that, but they did. They formed a line, and the crowd wasn't having any of it, started edging closer. Marines weren't authorized to shoot, so...they fixed bayonets. Crowd vanished.

Just thought you might be interested...

-- Shimrod (, January 18, 1999


I'm not aware of Marines in LA...but if much for the Posse Comitatus Act of 1871, ...I'll look it up and quote it in a bit....

-- Donna Barthuley (, January 18, 1999.

Okay...from what I've read, the Posse Comitatus Act was in is a quotation from a web search ...

"117-year-old Posse Comitatus Act.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act the military is precluded from engaging in civilian law enforcement activities, except in carefully prescribed circumstances regarding nuclear materials. The White House is proposing expanding the nuclear materials exception to include biological and chemical weapons. Now one can certainly understand the President's desire to utilize accessible technical expertise if we are confronted with the use of biological or chemical weapons. However the language of the bill goes far beyond utilizing otherwise unavailable know-how, it would invite the military into the entire criminal investigation.

Even more disturbingly, the Administration's plan would permit the Attorney General, to request assistance from the military in the investigation of a whole range of violent activities that are currently illegal under state law, thereby significantly increasing the military's involvement in local crime fighting.

With its delicate balance of power, our enduring democracy owes much of its resilience to its success in keeping the military from becoming the president's personal police force. Throughout history and around the world, involvement by the armed forces in civilian law enforcement is one of the trademarks of a repressive regime. Yet, the Administration's proposals would chip away at the wall which separates the two and, by that action, greatly enhance the power of the presidency. In the wrong hands, the results could be devastating to freedom. Congress should strongly resist efforts to move the United States in this direction.

In old England, Posse Comitatus was a summons to all men in the country, 15 years of age or older, to gather for the purpose of pursuing a felon or keeping the peace. The Act, which expressly prohibits the use of the military in "execut[ing] laws," was passed during Reconstruction in response to the excessive use of federal troops throughout the South to aid civilian officials in law enforcement. Such assistance ranged from aiding revenue officers in suppressing the illegal production of whiskey to guarding polling places during local elections. Passage of the Act was sealed after President Grant ordered the extensive use of troops in Southern states during the fraud-plagued presidential election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Southern Democrats saw the Act as necessary to their states' political independence and comity.

For the most part since its passage, Posse Comitatus has successfully segregated military and civilian law enforcement. And although there are notorious examples of Presidents calling in the army to subdue labor disputes and civilian protests, such as during the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, Posse Comitatus has been respected over the years with rather remarkable allegiance."

I'll look for the URL for the site I just referenced....

-- Donna Barthuley (, January 18, 1999.

First of all, it has been reported (but I do not personally know for certain) that Marines were used during the LA riots to "keep the peace". If they were, it was perfectly legal and legitimate as outlined in Title 10 of the United States Code. This has nothing to do with the Posse Comitatus law. Check this thread for a complete discussion of what the President can do with the military and under what circumstances.

Posse Comitatus basically means, "common posse" (just like in the old western movies) and the law is intended to prevent the law enforcement community from using the Army and the Air Force as such a posse. As you can clearly see from the law (below), the Navy and the Marine Corps is not prohibited from this action and that is why the Navy is so heavily involved in drug interdiction at sea and why the Marines have been deployed to the Mexican border on occasion.

18 USC Sec. 1385 01/26/98






Sec. 1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus


Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly

authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses

any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or

otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or

imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

-- Hardliner (, January 18, 1999.

Yes, the Marines were used to assist police in the LA riots. It is described and references provided, in Thomas Ricks' book Making the Corps . He supplies some amusing anecdotes on the difference between the mindsets of civil and military authority and methodology, for example:

The police commander asked the Marines for assistance "clearing that building". The Marines agreed enthsiastically, and thereupon began lobbing grenades into it. The police commander frantically offered some pointers on civil police procedure. Note: This distinction probably gets less "real" every day!

The greatest help the Marines provided was their expert sniper teams in strategic locations, really keeping things under control and providing intelligence. The US Marines are the best-trained snipers in the country. Police don't come close.


-- Runway Cat (, January 18, 1999.

runway Cat:

If this quote is true:

The US Marines are the best-trained snipers in the country. Police don't come close.

Then things have changed a bit. Seems a couple of my acquaintances were on the 197? Olympics in Munich. Thye had the Palistinian perps in their sights through the whole sordid mess, and could have stopped the problem any time up to the entry into the getaway cars.

Granted these guys shot then (and probably now if they really want to) on the first or second page at Camp Perry, but they are/were law enforcement, not military, like my really close friend, who happened to shoot All Army ( and about Page 11).


-- Chuck, night driver (, January 18, 1999.

Chuck, good point, but the Marines have the history and the current title on this. Remember, Carlos Hathcock was a Marine.

-- Runway Cat (, January 18, 1999.

According to this, m/FTUN/WARPOWER.html, we've been in a declared state of emergency since 1933, so the president can send Marines and whatever/whoever else he wishes, disregarding Posse Comitatus, no?

-- Chris (, January 19, 1999.

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