Last month, community members and organizations in the Bay Area won a major victory against police militarization in their neighborhoods, after years of advocacy and organizing. On March 27, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition successfully pushed the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to put an end to Urban Shield, an annual global weapons expo and SWAT training exercise for law enforcement around the world.
The Stop Urban Shield Coalition—which includes leadership from John Lindsay-Poland (AFSC Wage Peace coordinator) and AFSC's 67 Sueños (which brings together immigrant youth)—had organized hundreds of community members to rally and give public comment to the Board of Supervisors last month. And in a 4-1 vote led, the Board of Supervisors voted to end to Urban Shield as of 2019: “Urban Shield as we know it ends at the conclusion of this vote,” said Supervisor Keith Carson.
The vote represented a key victory for our community, which for years has stood up to the Urban Shield, a program that represents precisely the type of state violence that haunts the young people of 67 Sueños and other marginalized, impoverished communities. Urban Shield is funded by the Department of Homeland Security and collaborates and trains with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency that terrorizes immigrants across the countries and tears apart families and communities. Furthermore, Urban Shield also perpetuates many of the white supremacist policies and rhetoric promoted by the Trump administration. The event has hosted the Oath Keepers, a white supremacist militia group, and provided training to militarized law enforcement known for human rights violations, including police officers who maintain apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Please join us in celebrating the San Francisco Bay Area community for holding our local governments to the progressiveness they preach! If the Bay Area wants to set the national example of what sanctuary cities are supposed to be, then eliminating programs such as Urban Shield is paramount to reaching that goal.
This fight against Urban Shield is not over, however. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition will continue to pressure elected officials to keep them from reviving Urban Shield after the 2019 fiscal year.
To see a visual recap of the coalition's victory, watch the video above.