EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Friday, April 7, 2017

Urban Shield opponents want Alameda County to pull funding

ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The Trump administration's expanding definition of terrorism, including a focus on undocumented residents, is renewing opposition to the annual law enforcement training exercises and weapons exposition in Pleasanton, known as Urban Shield.

A grassroots organization will address the Alameda County Board of Supervisor's Urban Shield Task Force Friday morning in Oakland. Alameda County Supervisors are scheduled to discuss allocating $5.7 million in federal funding for Urban Shield at its April 11 meeting.

Stop Urban Shield is scheduled to make a presentation. The Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which oversees the training exercises, will also address the task force.

Opposition to the annual gathering, intended to train various domestic law enforcement jurisdictions for emergencies, in particular, those related to terrorism, has grown steadily since around 2009 when protests in Oakland flared surrounding the killing of Oscar Grant by BART Police, along with Occupy Oakland protests.

Making matters worse, Urban Shield formerly held the event in downtown Oakland until 2014, further inflaming anger among protesters.

In late February, Stop Urban Shield received a strong endorsement from the powerful California Nurses Association. The nurses' union sent the Board of Supervisors a letter Feb. 28 urging them to not support Urban Shield, but instead, to allocate resources to less violent emergency preparedness programs.

"We do not support programs that train first responders and law enforcement officials to see the people who live in our communities as their greatest threat. We do not support increasing the use of militarized weaponry and tactics in everyday law enforcement," the nurses' union wrote.

"These training exercises perpetuate racist and xenophobic stereotypes and increase trauma in communities already suffering under the massive number of police killings, militarized SWAT raids and sweeps, and surveillance technologies and are further eroding already fragile community / police relationships. This decreases public safety, destabilizes communities, and puts more cops at risk.”

Friday's task force meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Alameda County Conference Center, 125 12th Street, 4th floor Hayward/Union City Room in Oakland.

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