We Pushed Urban Shield Out of Oakland, But the Struggle Continues!

Stop Urban Shield

On Friday, September 5th, hundreds of of protesters gathered in front of the Marriott in Downtown Oakland, CA, to stand against Urban Shield and declare two major victories: Urban Shield will no longer be held at the Marriott and it will no longer take place anywhere in Oakland. Reclaiming the streets in celebration of our power, we made it loud and clear that we do not welcome militarization and policing of our communities.

Urban Shield is part of a growing national and international coordination of policing empowered by military tools and tactics, and our Coalition insists that we must work to roll this back while advancing community-led initiatives to provide actual safety.

The rally included music by the band Bandung 55 leading the crowd in chants, along with speakers from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Critical Resistance, the Malcolm X Grassroots MovementONYX Organizing CommitteeAnakbayan-East BayWar Resisters League, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) who highlighted the local, national and international dimensions of the weapons expo and SWAT training. The rally featured powerful testimony from the families of victims of police violence including the mothers of Alan Blueford, James Rivera Jr., Andy Lopez and Mario Romero, as well as Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby who said, “We were on the ground in Ferguson two days after the murder of Michael Brown and Oakland [police] is being prepared just like Ferguson police were prepared.” 

Moved by our growing community pressure, and mounting from an online petition and National Call-In Day, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office announced that Urban Shield would no longer be held at the Marriott. Following the demonstration on Friday, Mayor Jean Quan announced that the City of Oakland will not be renewing their contract with Urban Shield and the controversial arms show will not be hosted anywhere in Oakland next year. This major victory for the Stop Urban Shield Coalition is the fruit of years of grassroots organizing and a key step in the work to end Urban Shield nationally.  

Our work, however, is far from over. While Oakland will not host the trade show and training, we have not received guarantees that the city will completely withdraw participation, i.e. providing city funding, sending city agencies and offering city sites for future Urban Shield exercises. Our focus now shifts directly to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office which continues to coordinate Urban Shield. In the words of Lara Kiswani of AROC, “We say no to Urban Shield anywhere; we say no to militarization everywhere.” 

Friday’s demonstration was the culmination of a week of action and education called for by the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. The week included silk screening by Dignidad Rebelde, art and sign making by Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK), and community workshops and teach-ins on Urban Shield. Additionally, on Sunday, August 31st, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship blocked the door to the Marriott in silent meditation in protest of Urban Shield. On Wednesday, September 3rd, IJAN hosted a picket outside the San Francisco offices of the Anti-Defamation League for their role in training U.S. police in Israel. On Thursday, September 4th, a poster making event was hosted at Qilombo and co-sponsored by Dignidad Rebelde creating images of resistance in preparation for the next day’s rally. Earlier on Friday before the rally, family members that have lost loved ones to police violence, community religious leaders, as well as Oakland Mayoral candidates Dan Siegel and a representative of Rebecca Kaplan participated in a press conference, expressing their opposition to Urban Shield. Community members also hosted a community picnic that afternoon to highlight the families across California that have lost loved ones to police violence who then marched through Oakland to join in the rally.  

Speaking at Friday’s demonstration, Tara Tabassi of the War Resisters League said, “Urban Shield is a phenomenon spreading across the U.S. and the globe, but so are our movements.” Our Coalition plans on stopping Urban Shield in 2015, and continuing the work to demilitarize our communities and end repressive policing. If you or your organization, would like to be part of this ongoing work, locally in the Bay Area contact info[at]araborganizing[dot]org and nationally, contact: facingteargas[at]warresisters[dot]org. Visit our page for more info: http://bit.ly/susoaklandinfo

Stop Urban Shield Coalition – Coordinating Committee

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Critical Resistance (CR)
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
War Resisters League (WRL)

Full List of Endorsers

All of Us or None
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA)
Anakbayan East Bay
ANSWER Coalition-Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Arab Youth Organization
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Bay Area Childcare Collective
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice (LC4PJ)
Berkeley Copwatch
Berkeley Women in Black
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Catalyst Project
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
Civilian Soldier Alliance - San Francisco
Code Pink
Critical Resistance (CR)
Decolonize Oakland
Dignidad Rebelde
Environmentalists Against War
Freedom Archives
Gab - SF
Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK)
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
Iraq Veterans Against the War - National
Iraq Veterans Against the War - San Francisco
Jewish Voices for Peace - Bay Area
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, San Francisco Chapter
Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
Media Alliance
Oakland Privacy Working Group
Peace & Justice Center - Sonoma County
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT)
Restore the Fourth SF
Strike Back
SF 99% Civil Liberties Coalition
United Roots
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
War Resisters League
Workers World Party
Xicana Moratorium Coalition

Stop Urban Shield 2014 Media Roundup
Urban Shield Comes Under Fire - HuffPost Live [11:45]
#StopUrbanShield - Twitter