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Riot-Gear Spending Soars 114% in Trump’s Police-Power Surge

  • Purchases doubled over 2019 after death that led to protests
  • Dispatch of U.S. agents to cities led to clash over actions
A police officer aims a tear gas launcher during a protest in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 28.
A police officer aims a tear gas launcher during a protest in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 28. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Federal agencies are bolstering arsenals of tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and other crowd-control gear after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. agents to assume new policing powers in cities to quell protests that he said threatened government monuments, statues and property.

The Justice Department, Homeland Security, and other agencies outside of the military have paid private contractors at least $28.6 million for “less lethal” weapons and armor since May 25, when the death of an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis police custody sparked racial justice protests nationwide. The spending through Aug. 19 marked a 114% increase over the same period last year, according to contract data analyzed by Bloomberg Government.