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Support AFSC to Stop Urban Shield

Support AFSC to Stop Urban Shield

Published: August 23, 2017
Photo: Brooke Anderson

Please join AFSC and the Stop Urban Shield Coalition to participate in public comment at the Alameda County Urban Shield Task Force decision meeting, this Friday, August 25, between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., at 125 12th Street, Oakland. 

Five members of Alameda County’s Urban Shield Task Force proposed the abolition of Urban Shield and other regional exercises funded from sources that require a “nexus to terrorism,” as part of recommendations that will be considered at a final meeting this Friday. They cited the “controversy, opposition, and fear” generated by the Homeland Security-funded annual event, which is centered on a massive SWAT team competition in dozens of terrorist scenarios.

The Task Force was established by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in January, in response to widespread community protest against Urban Shield, to review several questions about the program. 

Citing Alameda County’s Emergency Operations Plan, which assesses earthquakes and six other disaster scenarios as more impactful than potential terrorist incidents, the five members called for preparedness to be led by community and non-law enforcement agencies and for a primary focus on prevention of and recovery from disasters.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has proven to be incapable of addressing community concerns regarding human rights, racism and militarized tactics, and should not lead an exercise to prepare for the most serious disasters. 

 Recognizing that the County may still proceed with Urban Shield, the five Task Force members also proposed several principles and measures to reduce its damage. These include:

  • Rewarding de-escalation and penalizing all fatalities in conflict scenarios of the exercise;
  • Eliminating a vendor show that highlights guns, surveillance equipment, and corporate donors to the Sheriff’s campaign;
  • Applying the same criteria to U.S. SWAT team competitors in Urban Shield as to international teams, by excluding from the exercise U.S. teams from departments with documented civil and human rights violations;
  • Providing public and press access to observe and document all commands and scenarios of the exercise.

Regardless of whether the County continues to coordinate Urban Shield, the Task Force members also proposed that the Board of Supervisors state its opposition to making terrorism the principle framework for disaster preparedness in the County; undertake a study that explores how the dozens of Bay Area jurisdictions that do not participate in Urban Shield prepare for emergencies; and require the Sheriff to publicly report in detail on his implementation of guidelines for Urban Shield established by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.

The five members who submitted the proposals to the 19-member Task Force are: Susan Abdallah (appointed by Supervisor Valle), Glenn Katon (civil rights attorney), Lara Kiswani (Arab Resource Organizing Center), John Lindsay-Poland (American Friends Service Committee), and Tash Nguyen (Ella Baker Center for Human Rights). 

 The final Urban Shield Task Force meeting (agenda) will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 25, at 125 12th Street in Oakland(at Oak St., 4 blocks from Lake Merritt BART; 6 blocks from 12th St. BART). Public comment on most proposals will likely be taken between 10:30 and 12:30.

Written public comment may also be submitted before Friday to: carol.burton@acgov.org

Read the full list of the group's proposals.