Facing Urban Shield - Countering the Militarization of the Police

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On Friday, 25 October, more than 100 police and military agencies from California and across the US were joined by their counterparts from Israel, Gaum, Bahrain and Brazil for a massive SWAT team training and weapons expo called "Urban Shield." WRL and the Facing Urban Shield Action Network, with more than 30 endorsers in the Bay Area, showed up to challenge this convergence and the militarization of the police.

A press conference on Friday included family members of people who have been killed by police, including Dionne Smith-Downs, the mother of James Rivera Jr., who was 16-years-old when he was killed by police in Stockton, CA in 2010 with an assault rifle. Smith-Downs said, “They used an AR-15 assault rifle to kill my son. That's a military weapon right there. And that has got to stop." Rivera’s father, Carey Downs, added, “They shot at my son 38 times, 18 into his body. They are using military weapons on our kids in our community—we need to take a lot more action. We are not just fighting for our son but for all of our kids.”

"What Urban Shield represents to us is the epitome of state repression that has been impacting communities of color and immigrant communities for decades," said Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center in an interview with Common Dreams. "Different strategies of surveillance against Arabs and Muslims and brown and black people are being used as tactics against our people back home. This is the militarization of the police."

Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center made similar comments in an interview with Common Dreams, saying, “What Urban Shield represents to us is the epitome of state repression that has been impacting communities of color and immigrant communities for decades.

“Different strategies of surveillance against Arabs and Muslims and Brown and Black people are being used as tactics against our people back home. This is the militarization of the police.”

See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/police-war-games-and-weapons-expo-brings-…

While in Oakland, WRL's Facing Tear Gas campaign organizers confronted our campaign target, Safariland, whose subsidiary - Defense Technology - has shipped tear gas and other "crowd control" weapons to the governments of Israel, Turkey, Canada, Bahrain, and Mexico, as well as to police forces around the US. Safariland tear gas was used to violently disperse activists at the Occupy Oakland encampment two years ago.

"Pressuring those that have the most to gain from the militarization of US police like Safariland—and letting people know that these companies have ties to everyday products like phones, bikes, and public universities—is going to be the most effective way to roll this police-state process back," said WRL organizer Ali Issa also in an interview with Common Dreams.

Our rally in front of the Marriott Hotel, host to Urban Shield in downtown Oakland, was followed by a march to Oscar Grant Plaza where Facing Urban Shield supporters joined with Occupy Oakland to mark the second anniversary of the Oakland Police Department crackdown and raid of their encampment.

More information:
http://facingteargas.org

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