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On March 27, the San Francisco Bay Area’s Stop Urban Shield Coalition claimed victory in its four-year battle to stop Urban Shield, a war games and weapons convention for cops held in Alameda County every year since 2007. I spoke to Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-facilitator of Oakland Privacy, a citizen’s coalition that works regionally to defend the right to privacy and enhance public transparency and oversight regarding the use of surveillance techniques and equipment. She has worked with the Stop Urban Shield Coalition since 2014.
We find ourselves in a moment with a great deal at stake. Our communities are fighting to define and create sanctuary spaces, while enduring a dangerous presidential administration that has emboldened white supremacist and xenophobic action. The Trump agenda has caused increased harassment, fear and even death. In the movement for abolition of policing, imprisonment, surveillance and the entire prison industrial complex, now is our time to be bold.
This coming Tuesday, June 20, the Berkeley City Council will hold a special meeting starting at 6 p.m. to decide whether or not to keep sending officers to the annual Urban Shield war games and weapons expo, which is billed as the world’s largest tactical training exercise for law enforcement and first responders. One of the expo’s best-selling T-shirts reads “Black Rifles Matter.” Urban Shield expos have been held around the country since the 9/11 attacks. In December 2015, then Berkeley City Councilor Max Anderson spoke in favor of withdrawing.
Both the Richmond and BART Police Departments sent taser advocates to the Oct. 6 Berkeley City Council hearing, but neither is an exemplar of responsible taser use. BART Officer Johannes Mehserle claimed to have mistaken his gun for his taser after he shot and killed Black teenager Oscar Grant, and Richmond officer Kristopher Tong tasered Black teenager Andre Little in the testicles. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Pritchett about the hearing.
University Avenue Cooperative Homes (UACH) is to be leased to Resources for Community Development/UACH, LP, in a “ground lease” agreement with the City of Berkeley for only $1 (one dollar) a year for 55 years. The sweetheart deal will be voted on later this evening by the Berkeley City Council. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley.
Berkeley is on a trend of gentrification and class genocide, making all of their so-called affordable housing, such as the University Avenue Cooperative Homes, unaffordable, discriminating against low-income communities of color with forced displacement through draconian policies to profiteer on, such as the recently proposed sit/lie law.
In Berkeley at the Black Repertory Group’s summer day camp, youth are instructed by our own professional theatrical performance staff and famous Black Rep alumni. “We pride ourselves on developing young stars," says Director Sean Vaughn Scott.
According to documents recently released online by the Office of the City Manager in Berkeley, the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) may receive kickbacks from a local non-profit housing developer in a scheme to privatize, revitalize and sell off its public housing. The scheme involves a vice president of consultant ICF International. Berkeley’s public housing residents oppose the sale of their housing and invite the public to join them Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Intercity Services, 3269 Adeline St., Berkeley.
The plan to sell off Berkeley’s 75 public housing units is harmful to Berkeley’s poor, elderly and disabled population that fail to qualify for the Section 8 program or meet the minimum income requirements to reside in so-called affordable housing units owned and operated by local nonprofit housing developers.