Author: L H

Inside the Weapons Expo: Urban Shield 2017

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Friday September 8, 2017

See below for images of today’s weapons exposition.

As part of Alameda County Sheriff Ahern’s annual and highly controversial Urban Shield program, hundreds attended a weapons exposition and vendor show in Pleasanton this morning. Observers reported vendor tables selling new facial recognition software that will be piloted in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail this year, “mile high” sniper rifles that will be featured in this weekend’s training activities, heavy duty batons used for crowd control, surveillance drones, weaponized robots, and close range rifles. Law enforcement agents – including representatives of San Francisco Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Berkeley Police Department, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Department of Homeland Security, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Department – shopped for military style weaponry, surveillance technology, robotics, and armored vehicles. Participants were also given “Blue Lives Matter” pins, a slogan that many have condemned as dismissive to the issue of police violence raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The vendor show and SWAT competition brings together law enforcement from across the country and the world to train in war games simulations and scenarios that have a “nexus to terrorism.” Urban Shield proponents’ claim that the event’s emphasis is on emergency preparedness rang hollow as the expo overwhelmingly featured vendors of weapons and surveillance technology. Though Alameda County Board of Supervisors prohibited weapons sales at this year’s vendor show, interested parties were able to place bids with vendors and obtain weaponry within as little time as two weeks. Over 15 of today’s vendors donated weaponry and equipment for police participating in this weekend’s SWAT competition to test out the weapons.

Due to mounting community pressure to cancel Urban Shield, members of the Alameda County Task Force on Urban Shield as well as elected officials have been allowed to attend the weapons expo and SWAT competition this weekend. Observers at the weapons exposition today included Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Councilmembers Cheryl Davila and Lori Droste, as well as Stop Urban Shield coalition representatives from the American Friends Service Committee and Ella Baker Center.

“Seeing the weapons exposition first hand was horrific. The testimonies from SWAT victims and community members that we have been highlighting for years came to life as we watched Bay Area police departments window shop for new military-style weapons,” reported Tash Nguyen of the Stop Urban Shield coalition. “This is exactly why we have been demanding an end to Urban Shield,” she continued. Nguyen serves on the Alameda County Task Force where the Stop Urban Shield coalition has made proposals that would address the militarized nature of Urban Shield and the impact on communities of color in the Bay Area.

Hundreds of Bay Area residents are preparing to gather outside the Alameda County Administration Building today at 4pm to demand that the Board of Supervisors immediately end Urban Shield. Stop Urban Shield organizers are also planning to hold a resource fair at Lake Merritt after the rally, aimed at providing workshops, aid kits, and information on how communities themselves can respond to emergency situations without militarized law enforcement.

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SEPTEMBER 8TH 2017: ALL OUT TO STOP URBAN SHIELD!!!

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The weekend of September 8th, Alameda County will host the controversial SWAT training, war games and weapons expo, Urban Shield. We will gather on September 8th, across communities, to end it & resist police militarization around the world!

Spread the word on Facebook

Join the Stop Urban Shield Coalition to say NO to policing, militarization and state violence!

WHEN// 4PM on September 8th 2017
WHERE// Alameda County Board of Supervisor’s Office, 1221 Oak St., Oakland CA

With the current manifestations of violence under the Trump administration, it is more important than ever to urge the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to end this racist and Islamaphobic event and invest in emergency preparedness that benefits the health and wellbeing of our communities. While Urban Shield is just one front in the fight against the state’s attempt to militarize every aspect of our lives – from its war-making here and abroad, to the increasing presence of police in our schools, to the systemic murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of police – stopping Urban Shield would be a major victory against this growing trend of militarization in cities everywhere, from Oakland to Ferguson to Baltimore.

Stop Urban Shield is a broad coalition of grassroots community and social justice organizations united in the fight to end Urban Shield and hold accountable our cities and counties for their corroboration in increased racialized repression and violence.

Join us in resisting violence against our communities and in fighting for genuine visions of justice, safety, and self-determination.

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Stop Urban Shield on AC Sheriff’s White Supremacist Tweet

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

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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.

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Berkeley Residents: Sign Petition to Withdraw Berkeley From Urban Shield

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URGENT: Turn Out to Berkeley City Council Tuesday March 14

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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

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

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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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