Congressman wants to curb military surplus program

By MATTHEW DALY | August 15, 2014 | 3:05 AM EDT

A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Images of police outfitted in paramilitary gear clashing with protesters in suburban St. Louis after the weekend shooting death of unarmed black teenager is giving new impetus to efforts to rein in a Pentagon program that provides free machine guns and other surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

A Democratic congressman, Hank Johnson of Georgia, says he plans to introduce legislation when Congress returns in September to curb what he describes as an increasing militarization of police agencies across the country.

Johnson says that militarizing America's main streets won't make Americans any safer, just more fearful and more reticent.

Johnson's comments come as Attorney General Eric Holder says he's concerned that the use of military equipment by police in Ferguson, Missouri, is sending the wrong message.