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Bay Area activists have been objecting to Urban Shield, the nation’s largest Homeland Security-funded weapons expo and counter-terrorism drill, since 2013. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 11 a.m., the board will meet to consider task force recommendations to change the event from a SWAT-focused police militarization convention to a natural disaster-focused community recovery and resilience event.
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.
Following the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department retweet of white supremacist Richard Spencer, which was a video of a press conference Spencer held defending the acts of terrorism in Charlottesville, we call on the sheriff to end their collaboration with ICE, stop profiting off of the incarceration of people of color, stop hosting militarized law enforcement trainings, and accurately account for what was saved as a result of Proposition 47.
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.
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.
On June 20, the Berkeley City Council, only months after being swept in by a progressive majority, rejected the call of hundreds of people to terminate a series of entanglements between local police and the federal security forces of the Donald Trump administration. The resistance failed to resist. In the nation’s heartland of dissent. What went wrong, and why? Petitions, a huge crowd, support from prominent public figures, fact sheets, a city poll dominated by those wanting a pull-out, three hours of public comment with no support for anything other than getting out. None of it mattered.
As the Trump government rolls out executive orders against refugees and other immigrants, Bay Area leaders and residents are bracing for possible cuts in federal grants to sanctuary cities. In our region, these include San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda, which do not turn undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities if they have not committed a crime. But there is one area where we should welcome cuts and reject federal funding: militarized counter-terrorist police training.
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.
Sunday, Oct. 12, marks our 19th Annual Maafa Commemoration. This is a time when we gather to remember our African ancestors, especially those who endured the transatlantic slave trade or the Middle Passage, the Black Holocaust. It is a time for Pan Africans to gather and celebrate life and recommit ourselves to the work of liberation: spiritual, psychological, economic and political.
There is a something dangerous about the pervading view of justice for Oscar Grant that constrains the perception of injustice to the bullet in the back, the soft verdict, the light sentence. For an alternative view on the day of Mehserle's sentencing, Friday, Nov. 5, 4-6 p.m., tune in KPFA 94.1 FM for special coverage with guests Cephus Johnson, Oscar's Uncle Bobby; Jack Bryson, Oscar's friends' father; Oscar's family's attorney John Burris; journalists Dave Id and Thandisizwe Chimurenga; M1 of dead prez; and Askia Sabur, whose Philly police beating was, like Oscar's murder, caught on video.