Last night, the Berkeley Police Review Commission voted 4 to 2 to cease the city’s participation in the highly militarized Urban Shield war games and weapons expo. The decision will be passed as a recommendation for the city council to make a decision on.
George Lippman, chair of the commission, and Andrea Pritchett were among the commission who attended to observe this year’s Urban Shield scenarios and weapons expo, noting the highly militarized nature of the program. Their observations challenged the idea that the program was necessary
“I didn’t see any training happening at Urban Shield; I saw SWAT teams demonstrate their training. It’s a competition,” stated Pritchett. Speaking to a widely condemned violent police crackdown of a 2014 Black Lives Matter protest in Berkeley, Pritchett continued, “It’s not that the police were unprepared, it’s that they were ill-prepared. It’s because of programs like Urban Shield that the police responded to the Black Lives Matter protests in a war-like fashion.”
The Stop Urban Shield Coalition applauds the commission’s decision. “We welcome the commission’s motion to to halt the city’s participation in this extremely dangerous and racist program, as it’s long past due that Berkeley withdraw,” said Lily Fahsi-Haskell of Critical Resistance, an organization with the coalition. “It is now the responsibility of the Mayor and city council members to heed this call by avoiding the same mistake they made in June, and to definitively say that Berkeley will not support militarization. It’s time to pull out of Urban Shield.”
The date for when the Berkeley city council will discuss this recommendation has yet to be decided.