Other and similar photographs can be found here (as usual, don't read the comments, some of which are reprehensible).
As shocking as it is to see such forces deployed in the streets of an American city, I'm not really sure why anyone should be all too surprised. We've seen this building up for years, now, though few people paid much attention to it.
In July of 2008, while on the campaign trail in Colorado Springs, then-Senator Barack Obama said:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.I cannot help but wonder if what we are seeing now in Ferguson isn't just the logical conclusion of the President's words.
To be sure, there are those who try to lessen the impact of these words and those who try to take these words to extreme ends. One thing, though, is certain: History has seen this sort of force used before on civilians, and it has never ended well.
Newsweek's Taylor Wofford explains How America's Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program and Politico that Representative Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) plans to introduce legislation that he calls the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (it gets the point across, but it isn't the best name for a law).
The Wire reports that The Pentagon Gave the Ferguson Police Department Military-Grade Weapons.
The Blaze reports that a retired Marine who opposes such equipment for police departments says, "What’s happening here is we’re building a domestic military because it’s unlawful and unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil. So what we’re doing is building a military."