The Arab Resource and Organizing Center stands with all those Black, Brown, and trans lives who have fell victim to the state sponsored terrorism. And we are inspired by the courage of the rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore have shown resilience in their ongoing resistance.
About the Stop Urban Shield Coalition
Urban shield has been in the Bay Area since 2007. It represents the massive militarization of the police. Each year local, federal and international agencies converge in Oakland to engage in trainings aimed at arming everyone – from health workers to Oakland Police Department – with tactics and weapons used by repressive governments, and racist, colonial, Apartheid states such as Israel. Each year they sharpen their skills at better terrorizing our communities. And last year, AROC and the Stop the Urban Shield Coalition organized to put enough pressure on the City of Oakland to demand that they stop hosting Urban Shield. And we won!
This was a significant victory that built on a history of Oakland organizing against policing and repression. But the work and struggle against State violence continues.
Arabs and Muslims
Surveillance, war and repression has a long history in all our communities. And for Arabs and Muslims it is illustrated in our homelands, in our forced migration to places like the US, in racial profiling here, and in the attacks on our organizations for fighting back against racism.
We have been increasingly racially and religiously profiled after 9-11. And we know that the U.S. government exploited 9/11 to justify the military occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq and drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. They have strengthened their partnership with the colonial Apartheid state of Israel and have developed a system of global policing and repression that impacts us all. What we are seeing in our cities today, and what Urban Shield represents, is in fact the result of western imperialism from the days that this land was stolen from the indigenous people of the Americas.
The role of Israel
Israel is the largest producer of surveillance technology and their weapons and technology are featured in the Urban Shield expo. They have also sent several agencies to train and import their torture and surveillance tactics into the US. We all know that Israeli security forces regularly train US law enforcement. The objective of such partnerships is to bring Israeli practices of apartheid and racial segregation and militarization into our backyards. Because the interests of the US and Israel are one in the same. That is why the US supports and arms Israel to the teeth to continue its genocide against the Palestinian people.
Stopping Urban Shield
The sole purpose of Urban Shield is to justify occupation and militarization of Black and Brown communities and suppress social movements.
Only our joint work together and cross movement building will stop this imperialist war machine. Today we are mirroring the acts of solidarity from Palestine to Ferguson, and the history of struggle against global repression. Just like we won last year, we will win this fight and Stop Urban Shield in order to fight for the self determination and dignity of all our people!
Justice for Andy Lopez, Oscar Grant, and Sandra Bland! Justice for Rasmea Odeh and all those fighting political repression and state violence!
What is Urban Shield?
Urban Shield is a federally-funded program militarizing every aspect of society. With a budget of over $2 million, it hosts over 200 local, federal and international agencies, from health workers to law enforcement, for both tactical equipment sales and on-the-ground SWAT training operations. The four day convention features the latest in surveillance technology and weapons trade show which is followed by two days of war game training exercises throughout the Bay Area, from airports, maritime ports, to rapid transit. Urban Shield’s budget comes from the Urban Areas Security Initiative, a program in the Department of Homeland Security.
The Urban Shield convention not only attracts law enforcement from the local and national police departments and agencies, but also a hand fill of foreign law enforcement agencies from Israel, Bahrain, Qatar, Guam, South Korea, and Singapore. According to the Urban Shield website, the term “nexus to terrorism” is included for each training exercise.
Why Should the Arab and Muslim Community Oppose Urban Shield?
Urban Shield Urban Shield is the largest urban SWAT competition in the country and represents the massive military industrial complex financing and training of local law enforcement with “counter-terrorism” tactics and racial profiling methods. The majority of Urban Shield training scenarios involve responding to “terrorist” attacks and always include scenarios that involve stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims. The glorification of Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment is in fact central to the logic of Urban Shield.
Local law enforcement has been aggressively buying military grade equipment to ‘counter’ a potential “terrorism” scenario. The use of “terrorism” by convention promoters is aimed at constructing a narrative of fear of Arabs and Muslims to justify the massive spending on surveillance and tactical equipment and further criminalization of Black and Brown people.
The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Task Force, and other law enforcement agencies have increasingly targeted Arabs and Muslims since 2001. This targeting has resulted in police and FBI harassment, detention, deportations, and criminalization of Arab and Muslims. Equipping law enforcement with military weaponry and tactics makes such already targeted communities that much more susceptible to State violence.
What are we fighting for?
Last year, AROC and other grassroots organizations as part of the Stop the Urban Shield Coalition organized actions to demand that the city of Oakland stop hosting Urban Shield, and we won! But there is more work to be done. Alameda County continues to host Urban Shield and dozens of agencies from across the Bay Area and California continue to participate. AROC remains committed to challenging surveillance, militarization, and repression. We are steadfast in demanding an end to all of Alameda County’s participation in the Urban Shield program, an end Urban Shield once and for all, and to end to all collaborations with Apartheid Israel.
Join us as we protest the convention being held on September 11th to build with other communities to demand an end to the Urban Shield program as whole. No to policing, surveillance and militarization! No to State violence from here to our homelands!