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Introducing "Demilitarize!"

Welcome to Demilitarize! a new bi-monthly publication for informing and empowering activism to demilitarize police in the United States and stop U.S. weapons sales for the war in Mexico.

Wage Peace of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in San Francisco is undertaking a multi-year effort to support movements to demilitarize police in the United States and Mexico. We aim to strengthen the documentation, analysis, and solidarity networks among activists, impacted families and others concerned about these difficult issues.

For U.S. and Mexican communities, we understand militarism as a tool of both empire and white privilege. In some cases even the companies and agencies involved are the same (e.g. Colt Industries, Department of Homeland Security), and we will develop a counter-narrative to these processes.

Our work will include advocacy both in the Bay Area and nationally; visits between Mexican and U.S. activists and communities affected by state violence; and producing accessible information and video. We will dig up key information on the funding flows, corporate profiteers, policy-makers, and abuses that result from militarization and weapons sales, and seek to strengthen our collective capacity to do this research in ways useful to movements in Mexico and the U.S.

To do this, we need you. We are not asking for funds, but something even more valuable: the application of your values and caring for those impacted by state violence in Mexico and the United States. There are multiple ways to do this. We ask you to pay attention, and participate as you are able. If you live in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco or other Bay Area cities, we seek residents to join efforts against police militarization, especially participation in the annual Urban Shield exercises. If you are a teacher in a high scool or college, or know students or veterans, we hope you will help us present the Full Picture in military recruitment on Bay Area campuses. We are looking for those who like research, to help us sleuth military-police systems and ways our communities can address them. We seek folks with skills in graphic design and mapping, to help us all visualize and understand militarization, where it lives and who it affects.

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February 2016

Pope Francis in Mexico: One More International Human Rights Observer

By Daniella Burgi-Palomino
During his visit to Mexico from February 12 to 18, Pope Francis represented one more international observer for the worsening human rights situation throughout the country. Statements from the Pope and governments, advocates and influential figures, including from the United States, are profoundly necessary in Mexico's current context, where human rights violations are anything but the exception. Read more.

Congress Begins Debate on Draft Registration

By Edward Hasbrouck
Congress will soon have to choose whether to extend draft registration to women, to end all draft registration, or to allow registration to end by court order. A new bipartisan bill would end draft registration entirely, not extend it to women. Read more.

The Cost of Police Assault Weapons in Emeryville

By John Lindsay-Poland
Feb. 3 - A year ago today, Emeryville Police shot and killed 38-year-old Yuvette Henderson, using an AR-15 assault weapon. Henderson had just dropped off her kids at school, and allegedly had shoplifted at Home Depot, was injured, and left when police gunned her down. Just six blocks away, less than a week before, a White man pursued police deputies in Oakland and fired a gun at them, but they did not even return fire. When police face individuals suspected of a crime, their unconscious bias can quickly become deadly - or not. Read more.

Love in Action: A Campaign in Vallejo

By Sema Dudum
Things are changing in Vallejo, a city northeast of San Francisco in the Bay Area. A few years ago, Vallejo was the first city in the United States to declare bankruptcy, had huge flight out and home foreclosures after the great recession, and a school district that was taken over by the State of California. With the steadfast work of community volunteers determined to uplift Vallejo, that has turned around now. Read more.

Mexican Military Sold Quarter Million Weapons since 2010

Much is written about the illegal gun trade to Mexico – much less about the Mexican military’s sales to its own police and private security companies of weapons that are imported, mostly from the United States. Private possession of firearms is illegal for almost all individuals in Mexico. But the weapons get through: The Mexican military sold 255,712 weapons from 2010 to 2015. Read more.

December 2015

Berkeley City Council Considers Policing, Tues. December 15

Tuesday December 15, Berkeley City Council members will discuss the city's involvement and participation in Urban Shield, a highly militarized SWAT training and weapons expo. The City Council will also be discussing the Berkeley police's crackdown of a protest last December, in which people who came out to stand up against the murders of Black people at the hands of police were brutalized. (Read more)

The Expanding Geography of Training Mexico’s Police and Soldiers

By John Lindsay-Poland
The United States gave military training to more than 5,700 Mexican police and soldiers in some 45 U.S. locations and at least ten sites in Mexico during the last two years. The training ranged from jungle exercises at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and desert operations at Fort Bliss in El Paso, to helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama and maritime policing in the US Coast Guard’s training center in Yorktown, Virginia. But most U.S. military training for Mexican armed forces occurred in Mexico. (Read more)

Bay Area Communities and Navy/Marine Corps Enlistment

Veterans, students, activists, and parents gathered November 14 in San Francisco to share experiences of dealing with war and military recruitment in schools, part of work to give young people the full picture of what military service means and alternatives to it.

AFSC presented initial data showing where peoplein the Bay Area are enlisting in the Navy and Marine Corps, and Austin, Texas veteran Hart Viges showed how he and others reach out to students in their community. (Read more)

The Tlatlaya Massacre and U.S. Military Aid

By Laura Carlsen
Mexico's 102nd Battalion became famous, or infamous, when on June 30, 2014, the Battalion killed 22 young people in Tlatlaya, Mexico. The day after the massacre, the Army released a communiqué stating that 22 criminals had died in a confrontation in which not one member of the Army was injured. Thanks to investigations by national and international journalists and the help of witnesses who spoke about what happened that night, we now know that the majority of the victims were executed after surrendering. (Read more)

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