Stop Urban Shield on AC Sheriff’s White Supremacist Tweet

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department retweets white supremacist “Unite the Right” press conference, community members urge action

“If county officials are appalled at the Sheriff’s Department retweet of white supremacy, they need to take action and put an end to its equally racist and appalling practices and programs, such as Urban Shield, immigrant detention and collaboration with ICE, and jail expansion.”

Oakland – Yesterday at around 10:40pm, the official twitter account of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department retweeted a video of a press conference organized by Richard Spencer, the icon of the white supremacist “alt-right” movement. The tweet dubbed the press conference with a “Unite the Right” hashtag – the same slogan that white supremacist groups used to mobilize people to Charlottesville, VA this past weekend, which resulted in the tragic murder of an anti-racist demonstrator by a white supremacist.

Community organizations that have long organized against the Sheriff’s department harmful policies and practices argue that the endorsement of white supremacy on twitter is representative of the department’s ongoing attacks against immigrants and people of color. Community members fighting police militarization with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition, anti-imprisonment organizers with Decarcerate Alameda, and immigrant rights advocates with Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights (ACUDIR) all condemn not just the message of the retweet, but the ongoing racism and violence of Sheriff’s Department against impacted communities.

“As appalling as it is that a public entity in the Bay Area would retweet a well-known white supremacist, we are not surprised. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, under the reign of Sheriff Gregory Ahern, has consistently pursued policies that align themselves with extreme hate, racism, and xenophobia,” said Woods Ervin of Critical Resistance and the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. “If county officials are appalled at the Sheriff’s Department retweet of white supremacy, they need to take action and put an end to its equally racist and appalling practices and programs, such as Urban Shield, immigrant detention and collaboration with ICE, and jail expansion.

The Sheriff’s Department annually hosts Urban Shield, the largest militarized SWAT training and weapons expo in the world. Federally funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Urban Shield has been under sharp criticism due to its promotion of police militarization, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, and highly repressive practices and techonologies. Bay Area communities have also been outraged at the Sheriff’s Department’s plans to expand the county jail system, as well as its continued collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where it detains immigrants, ultimately leading to deportation.

“The community is outraged by Sheriff Ahern, who has continuously sided with hate and implements it through his policies and practices,” said Sandy from California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, an organization with ACUDIR. “Sheriff Ahern has admitted to racially profiling and criminalizing communities of color.”

“White supremacy is not only alive and well on the Sheriffs Department’s twitter page, but also in their racially unjust policies and daily practices. The Sheriff’s white supremacist actions ring loud and clear in their plan to spend $70 million on a new mental health unit at Santa Rita Jail, an expansion project that will continue to target people of color, destroy lives, and add to the department’s long history of racism,” said Tash Nguyen of Decarcerate Alameda. “We refuse to accept the everyday, state-sanctioned racist violence of incarceration as legitimate.”

This is not the first time the County Sheriff has been under scrutiny for his support of the extreme right. In December of last year, Sheriff Ahern also co-signed a letter of support for Jeff Sessions, the current U.S. Attorney General who has been widely condemned because of his xenophobia, racism, and denial of climate change.

“The Sheriff can claim that the retweet was a mistake, yet he continues to steamroll our communities with violent and racist practices. We demand County officials to take action not only against his words or tweets, but on his actions that are having real, everyday impacts on communities of color throughout the Bay Area,” said Ervin.

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Berkeley Failed Communities and Stood with Militarization

Action Alert – Call Berkeley City Council Today, Demand a Re-Vote on Urban Shield

The Stop Urban Shield coalition is proud of the unity and resilience displayed by all those in attendance at last night’s hearing in Berkeley. We need to maintain this resolve in order to Stop Urban Shield in Berkeley and end the program entirely. We cannot tolerate this police abuse and city evasion of democratic process – Take Action Immediately!

Over 500 of us – advocates and Berkeley residents fighting to end police militarization – attended last night’s hearing. We were united in our call to permanently withdraw Berkeley from Urban Shield participation and to end participation in NCRIC. After listening to hours of testimony, with only one speaker out of hundreds speaking in support of the violent police program, Mayor Arreguin and other council members approved participation in NCRIC and attempted to move forward with a vote to remain in Urban Shield.

With the mayor attempting to rush and confuse the vote, community members broke out in chants and unfurled a banner to nonviolently display their protest. This prompted the police to respond with aggressive force with two people arrested (they have since been released) and others injured. This is exactly the type of repression we are standing against when demand an end to Urban Shield. It is the brutality faced daily by Black, Brown, and poor communities in the Bay Area.

The Clerk’s Office and City Council are deciding today on whether the vote will stand. Make a call right now!

I’m contacting you to demand that yesterday’s attempted vote on Urban Shield is not sustained by the Council or Clerk. The proposal was not transparent to the public or council, the motion and process were convoluted, and the vote was not publicly heard. In light of this evasion of democracy and yesterday’s show of police brutality following the hearing, this vote needs to be rescinded and heard again.

First, call the below numbers before 5pm today!

City Clerk: (510) 981-6900

Mayor Arreguin: (510) 981-7100

Then, copy the above message and send to: council@cityofberkeley.infoclerk@CityofBerkeley.info

If you are a Berkeley resident, worker, or student please include your address in the email.

Berkeley Residents: Sign Petition to Withdraw Berkeley From Urban Shield

UPDATED: Mark Your Calendars, Berkeley Vote June 20th!

Special Berkeley Hearing on Urban Shield Scheduled!

June 20th, 6pm
Longfellow Middle School (1500 Derby St, Berkeley)
 
The Berkeley City Council will be voting on the city’s participation in Urban Shield.

On Tuesday May 16 more than 200 people turned out to the Berkeley City Council

in anticipation of the Council’s vote on whether or not to continue Berkeley’s participation in Urban Shield. After waiting six hours for the agenda item to be heard and after giving powerful testimony, we were told that the Council once again decided to postpone the vote. The coalition and supporters staged a walkout to show the Council that we won’t stand for this kind of manipulation.

 We have gotten word that the Council will now be hearing additional testimony in a special session and will actually be voting sometime in mid-June at a date, time and location to be determined. We are making sure that this special session will be held in a location that will be able to accommodate the huge number of community members who will be mobilizing

PLEASE STAY TUNED. WE STILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT! 

We want to redouble our efforts at the upcoming meeting in showing the Berkeley City Council that they need to stand on the side of the people and not on the side of militarization and oppression.

In the meantime, please call and email the mayor and Council people to urge them to vote No To Urban Shield!

 Mayor Jesse Arreguin/ (510) 981-7100/ mayor@cityofberkeley.info

 District 1/Linda Miao/(510) 981-7110/  lmaio@cityofberkeley.info /

 District 2/Cheryl Davila/ (510) 981-7120/ cdavila@cityofberkeley.info

 District 3/  Ben Bartlett/ (510) 981-7130/  bbartlett@CityofBerkeley.info

 District 4/ Kate Harrison / (510) 981-7140 /  kharrison@CityofBerkeley.info

 District 5 / Sophie Hahn/ 510) 981-7150 / shahn@CityofBerkeley.info

 District 6 / Susan Wengraf / (510) 981-7160 / swengraf@CityofBerkeley.info

 District 7/ Kris Worthington / (510) 981-7170 / kworthington@CityofBerkeley.info

 District 8/  Lori Droste / (510) 981-7180 / ldroste@CityofBerkeley.info

Berkeley City Council Postpones Vote to Withdraw from Urban Shield for a Third Time

Last night the Berkeley city council decided yet again to postpone a potentially historic vote to withdraw the city of Berkeley from participating in the Urban Shield war games and militarized SWAT training.

More than 200 community members and Berkeley residents came out to show their opposition to Urban Shield and to pressure the Council to listen to their constituents. Many people waited through a packed agenda for nearly 6 hours, some camped out in the downstairs lobby due to an already crowded upstairs chambers, in order to have their voices heard.

“SWAT teams break down the doors of Black and Brown community members’ homes to serve search warrants at four and five in the morning using tactics they learned at the Urban Shield training,” said Sagnicthe Salazar, a member of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition and the Xicana Moratorium Coalition. “The decision to postpone the vote has nothing to do with the lateness of the hour and everything to do with members of the council bowing to political pressure from Berkeley PD and Sheriff Ahern.” 

Despite the large and visible presence of people clearly organized around the Urban Shield agenda item, Mayor Jesse Arreguin intentionally chose to push the agenda item to the very end of the meeting. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition believes that this strategy was used deliberately to limit the number of voices present to speak out against Urban Shield; despite this at least 100 people remained to give testimony on the item which did not begin until around 11:30pm.

“Berkeley residents came out to this meeting in force to let the Council know that we understand the harmful and far reaching effects that militarized trainings for cops have on communities” said Ellen Brotsky, a Berkeley resident and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, “Not only is Urban Shield antithetical to Berkeley values, it also undermines the ability of cities like Berkeley to seek out community-based alternatives to Urban Shield.”

Then, in a clear undermining of the democratic process, the Council decided at 12:30 am that they would adjourn and that they would not cast a vote concerning Urban Shield at this meeting.  While the crowd erupted in boos of anger and disappointment we remained disciplined and organized and collectively decided to exercise our power to end the meeting on our own terms. We walked out before the conclusion of the meeting with chants of “Stop Urban Shield” echoing in the hallways. This move showed the City Council that the community will not tolerate this kind of manipulation. The council moved to set another meeting at a date and time to be determined where they assured those present that a vote would be held. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition will ensure that the meeting is held in a space that can accommodate the powerful showing of our community, and turn out in force again, larger and stronger to raise our demands.

The decision to further postpone this vote, rather than taking the decisive action that Berkley needs, undermines the trust that the people of Berkeley have placed in their elected officials and calls into question the legitimacy of the Council as a decision-making body. Furthermore, the call to postpone the vote is a slap in the face to community members, working people, mothers and fathers, who gave hours of their time waiting for the item to be called as well as organizers who for the third time in as many months, met with council members, outreached to community leaders, and mobilized people to the meeting.

The Stop Urban Shield Coalition is urging people to email and call the Council members and let them know how you feel about this further postponement and urge them to take swift action to end Urban Shield:

CONTACT INFO FOR BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

Mayor Jesse Arreguin/ (510) 981-7100/ mayor@cityofberkeley.info

District 1/Linda Miao/(510) 981-7110/  lmaio@cityofberkeley.info /

District 2/Cheryl Davila/ (510) 981-7120/ cdavila@cityofberkeley.info

District 3/ Ben Bartlett/ (510) 981-7130/  bbartlett@CityofBerkeley.info

District 4/ Kate Harrison / (510) 981-7140 /  kharrison@CityofBerkeley.info

District 5 / Sophie Hahn/ 510) 981-7150 / shahn@CityofBerkeley.info

District 6 / Susan Wengraf / (510) 981-7160 / swengraf@CityofBerkeley.info

District 7/ Kris Worthington / (510) 981-7170 / kworthington@CityofBerkeley.info
District 8/  Lori Droste / (510) 981-7180 / ldroste@CityofBerkeley.info

Please stay tuned for more information on the promised vote and how to mobilize and/or support.

Berkeley City Council Considers Ending Involvement in Urban Shield

Town Hall on Militarization and Law Enforcement Agreements: Berkeley City Council Considers Ending Involvement in Urban Shield

Join the Stop Urban Shield Coalition for a town hall hosted by members of the Berkeley City Council as they prepare to discuss withdrawing from federal funding for militarized law enforcement training through Urban Areas Security Initiative and the annual Urban Shield training and weapons expo. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition has been fighting Urban shield on every front. We’ve been at Berkeley City Council Meetings to convince representatives that Urban Shield hurts Berkeley residents, particularly in Black and Brown communities. 

Join us for a community town hall hosted by Council Members Cheryl Davila and Kate Harrison. 

Date: Monday, April 17th, from 6-8pm

Location: The Way Church, 1305 University Ave, Berkeley  Berkeley City 

All Out to Berkeley City Council Meeting to Say No to Urban Shield!

In an unprecedented move, the Berkeley City Council is considering fully withdrawing their support for local agency participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative and Urban Shield. This meeting is critical for the fight against Urban Shield. A decision in favor of pulling out of Urban Shield by the Berkeley City Council paves the way for other cities in the Bay Area to do the same.

Date: Tuesday, April 25th at 7:00pm

Location:  Berkeley City Council  Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between Allston and Addison (near downtown Berkeley BART)

Look for more information in the coming days about calling Berkeley City Council members to urge them to support ending Urban Shield!

 

California Nurses Association Urges Alameda County Board of Supervisors to End Urban Shield

The California Nurses Association (CNA)one of the largest labor organizations in the state, has joined the ranks of dozens of other organizations and hundreds of community members and health care professionals in taking stance against the militarization of police by opposing Urban Shield. In a recent letter to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors CNA points to the critical nature of emergency preparedness and how the militarization of such a response actually undermines community safety.

“We strongly support the development, support, and expansion of true Emergency Preparedness programming in Alameda County. We are distressed to learn that our Board of Supervisors plans on allocating five of the $6 Million dollars granted by UASI Urban Shield, while not spending a single dollar on many of the emergency preparedness goals, such as Goal 1: Planning and Risk Management, Goal 5: Medical and Public Health, Goal 6: Emergency Planning and Community Preparedness, or Goal 7: Recovery.

We do not support programs that train first responders and law enforcement officials to see the people who live in our communities as their greatest threat. We do not support increasing the use of militarized weaponry and tactics in everyday law enforcement. These training exercises perpetuate racist and xenophobic stereotypes and increase trauma in communities already suffering under the massive number of police killings, militarized SWAT raids and sweeps, and surveillance technologies and are further eroding already fragile community / police relationships. This decreases public safety, destabilizes communities, and puts more cops at risk.”

You can read the full text of the letter here. 

URGENT: Turn Out to Berkeley City Council Tuesday March 14

URGENT: Turn Out to Berkeley City Council Tuesday March 14

Stop Urban Shield coalition has continued to strongly mobilize in Alameda County, San Francisco, and now the City of Berkeley against the annual racist Urban Shield militarized SWAT training and weapons exposition. Join us!

Today, the Berkeley City Council will be hearing items about the city’s collaborations with other jurisdictions’ law enforcement agencies. Among the collaborations are participation in the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), which is the federal program that allows Urban Shield to take place.

Join the Stop Urban Shield coalition in demanding that city officials end their collaboration with UASI and withdraw all participation in Urban Shield.

Additionally, we are calling on Berkeley to withdraw from participating in the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a fusion center that works to compile massive amounts of information gathered through surveillance. Fusion centers are the central gathering vehicles for Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), which have targeted Arabs, Muslims, and people of color.

Turn out and testify! (talking points and info provided)

Date: Tuesday March 14th at 7pm
Location: Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between Allston and Addison (near downtown Berkeley BART)

Contact Berkeley City Council and Mayor – Phone or Email Today!

Dear Council Member,

My name is ______ and I am a __ [Berkeley resident, member of organization, concerned resident, etc] __. I’m writing to demand that the City of Berkeley continue to stand firmly on the side of civil and human rights by ending its collaborations with Department of Homeland Security programs. Taking a stand to protect Berkeley residents is particularly important under the extremely racist and dangerous Trump administration.

We specifically demand that Berkeley does NOT continue its participation in NCRIC, and does NOT enter into any agreements with Urban Areas Security Initiatives, including no longer participating in or hosting Urban Shield.

Contact: stopurbanshieldnow@gmail.com or 510-444-0484 for more information.

www.stopurbanshield.org

San Francisco supervisors condemn Urban Shield, move toward pulling out of militarized policing program

San Francisco – At the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, city leaders condemned the militarization of Urban Shield, and passed a resolution that urged Alameda County to suspend the highly controversial policing training and weapons expo. Additionally, Supervisor Norman Yee stated his intention to introduce a follow up ordinance that would bar any San Francisco personnel or agencies from participating in Urban Shield, a move applauded by members of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition.

During the meeting, Yee stated that he was going “to look into legislation to prevent future participation of San Francisco personnel in Urban Shield.”

Before his closing remarks, Yee held up a picture of an item sold at the Urban Shield weapons expo, a t-shirt that features an M-16 assualt rifle and reads “Black Rifles Matter.” According to SF Weekly, the blatantly racist and violent item has been a “top seller” at the expo.  Although protest and anger from Bay Area residents compelled Alameda County Supervisors to mandate that “Urban Shield will be free from racist-stereo-typing,” organizers with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition maintain that the training and weapons expo are fundamentally rooted in the drive to further increase militarization.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer reiterated the Stop Urban Shield’s concerns that as a federally funded “War on Terror” program, Urban Shield ultimately targets people of color, immigrants, Arabs and Muslims, and other marginalized communities deemed to be “threats.” “When we start talking about a ‘war on drugs,’ when we use the language, or the federal government uses the language ‘war on immigrants,’ ‘war on terrorism,’ any time we use that phrase a ‘war on something,’ then we as citizens of the United States and as residents of the Bay Area are vulnerable…we should actually work against the militarism of the San Francisco police department and all police departments,” stated Fewer. “I think this is a very scary time, but what we do not need is to actually declare a war on the people of San Francisco.

The Stop Urban Shield Coalition will continue working in San Francisco to ensure that the city withdraws its support and participation in Urban Shield, and will build on this resolution to further push Alameda County Supervisors to rein in their Sheriff and put a halt to his dangerous program.

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