Following community pressure, SF Supervisors postpone vote on controversial Urban Shield, citing concerns of militarization and Trump administration

Supervisors interrogate and raise concerns about federally funded program, pause on submitting grant application to Department of Homeland Security

by Mohamed Shehk

Protesters shut down Urban Shield at the Alameda County Fairgrounds last Sept. 9. – Photo: Stop Urban Shield

San Francisco – In a small victory for the Stop Urban Shield Coalition earlier today, the Budget and Finance Committee postponed voting on an item to allow San Francisco to apply for federal funding that ultimately goes toward the militarized SWAT training program and weapons expo known as Urban Shield. The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security through the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant, which has raised increased concern amid President Trump’s executive actions today targeting immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

“In this time when our communities are clearly under attack, San Francisco’s leaders must stand with us and stop allowing funding to go toward militarized programs and policing,” said Sagnicthe Salazar of the Xicana Moratorium Coalition. “The repression, SWAT raids, surveillance and violence that Urban Shield represents will undoubtedly intensify under Trump. A simple and concrete way that San Francisco can protect communities here from the danger of the Trump administration is to ensure that Urban Shield is put to an end.”

San Francisco is positioned as the fiscal agent for the Bay Area UASI program, meaning that it is responsible for applying for, obtaining and distributing all UASI funds throughout the region.

“In this time when our communities are clearly under attack, San Francisco’s leaders must stand with us and stop allowing funding to go toward militarized programs and policing,” said Sagnicthe Salazar of the Xicana Moratorium Coalition.

During public comment, community members and organizers with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition offered what they called a simple solution, encouraging the supervisors to add an amendment to the resolution that would allow it to go forward – with the exception that Urban Shield be excluded from any application that San Francisco submits for UASI funding.

Supervisors on the Budget and Finance Committee agreed that as the fiscal agent for UASI in the Bay Area, San Francisco is responsible not only for distributing funding, but also for what kinds of programs ultimately get funded.

During the hearing, Supervisor Malia Cohen stated that “the point that I am trying to make is I feel a certain sense of responsibility as the fiscal agent to take the claims that we are hearing seriously.” Cohen continued, “As you have seen on the news, there are substantial protests and unrest of how [Alameda County] is using their dollars. If we are the fiscal agent … you intercede, you kind of step in to ask questions, and it sounds like to me that we have not been asking any questions. We have just been shirking our responsibility.”

During the hearing, Supervisor Malia Cohen stated that “the point that I am trying to make is I feel a certain sense of responsibility as the fiscal agent to take the claims that we are hearing seriously.”

The Stop Urban Shield coalition is preparing to mobilize community members to the upcoming Budget and Finance committee hearing where this item will be heard, scheduled for next Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 10 a.m.

Mohamed Shehk, media and communications director for Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization working to abolish the prison industrial complex, can be reached at 510-444-0484 or mohamed@criticalresistance.org.