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Some 400 people packed a special city council meeting here on June 20 to demand that the city end its “shameful collaboration” with federal police and spy agencies. But the council, while widely hailed as “progressive,” ignored the near-unanimous popular opinion and voted to renew three controversial police programs: participation in a Regional Intelligence Fusion Center, participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative and acquisition of a bulletproof armored personnel carrier.
It was the first time I’d ever attended a Police Review Commission meeting in Berkeley. Together with nine other community members, we went to express our opposition to three terrible policies of the city government and its police department: 1. Repeated police raids on homeless encampments, 2. City participation in the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center and its domestic spying operation, and 3. City participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative.
On Friday, Sept. 9, activists chained themselves to the entrances to the Alameda County Fairgrounds to protest Urban Shield, the highly controversial SWAT training and weapons expo hosted annually by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. Twenty-three activists were arrested, cited and released. Over 500 community members from many cities across California, joined the Stop Urban Shield Coalition in a massive mobilization, march and rally.