No! to ‘Urban Shield’

From the November-December 2016 issue of News & Letters

Sept. 9, 2016, rally in Pleasanton, Calif., against "Urban Shield." Photo: Ron Kelch for News & Letters.

Sept. 9, 2016, rally in Pleasanton, Calif., against “Urban Shield.” Photo: Ron Kelch for News & Letters.

Oakland, Calif.—On Sept. 9 several hundred of us trekked out to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton to protest “Urban Shield,” a police weapons expo of new gadgetry offered by vendors to further militarize local police departments. Though there were many ways into the huge fairgrounds, protesters chained themselves to fences to block entrances and 23 were arrested.

Demonstrations and community opposition in Oakland in 2014 had forced “Urban Shield” to relocate to Pleasanton. At issue is the growing use of SWAT raids in minority communities. The survivors’ stories of these raids reveal the degree to which police have turned our communities into the enemy.

Uncle Bobby, Oscar Grant’s uncle and a spokesman for the Black community of “Love not Blood,” has been a tireless activist since the murder of his unarmed nephew by a Bay Area Rapid Transit policeman in 2009. He summed up the issue as not just one of things, the technology of killing, but the mentality behind it. He said every one of the officers involved in killing Oscar Grant testified that before they even arrived they felt they were “going into a combat zone.” 

—R. K.

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