STOP URBAN SHIELD PUTS SHERIFF ON THE DEFENSIVE

STOP URBAN SHIELD PUTS SHERIFF ON THE DEFENSIVE

On Tuesday January 10th the Stop Urban Shield (SUS) Coalition mobilized a powerful showing of over 100 community members at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting. Opening with a powerful rally, the SUS Coalition had a strong and inspiring presence against the Sheriff’s efforts to continue his violent, oppressive, and highly militarized SWAT training and weapons expo. We joined forces with the Alameda County Jail Fight Coalition, which was also there in force to stop the expansion of Santa Rita Jail, and made clear that the struggles against policing and imprisonment are fundamentally linked, and must be fought in tandem with each other.

For the last several months, the Coalition has been organizing to push the Board of Supervisors to refuse funding for Urban Shield. We have delivered testimony during public comment at meetings and created a report to help educated the Board on how they can shift their priorities and invest in true emergency preparedness and disaster responses that support communities. In October we alerted the Supervisors to the upcoming opportunities to refuse the Sheriff’s bid for Urban Shield funding, even though the Sheriff misled the Board, lying about intentions to receive funds to host the expo in 2018. For months we have requested meetings with each of the Supervisors to speak directly about our concerns, yet all refused to meet with us except for Richard Valle, who finally agreed at the eleventh hour on Monday.

On Tuesday, over 50 people representing 30 organizations spoke against Urban Shield and gave powerful testimony on the impacts of militarized policing on immigrant and Muslim communities and communities of color (Twitter feed account here). Our testimony broadly and succinctly challenged the legitimacy of police as emergency first responders, the collusion of natural disaster preparedness and militarization, and the continuation of a program that would expand the Trump regime’s capacity to wage war on our local communities. We were coordinated in our efforts and our talking points, despite the fact that the Board refused to allow the Coalition time for a counter presentation and even cut public comment to one minute per person. We presented a petition signed by more than 1500 Alameda County residents urging the Board to oppose Urban Shield. We demanded that the Supervisors refuse funding for Urban Shield, or at the very least, postpone their decision until all of them met with us.

Tuesday’s meeting revealed the power of our organizing. Due to pressure from the SUS Coalition, the Board of Supervisors requested a presentation from the Sheriff whereas in the past they have simply rubber stamped the funding. Given the threat of our efforts against Urban Shield, the Sheriff’s department felt compelled to gather testimony in his defense and lay out 2017 guidelines, including banning any vendors from the weapons expo that display racist material. Following questions from a Supervisor that the SUS Coalition delivered, the Sheriff even quickly accepted a ban on having international police units from countries with ongoing human rights violations. Though we do not believe that these guidelines will make Urban Shield any less destructive or harmful, they, along with his cabal of cops in attendance to support Urban Shield, show that he was terrified our communities were close to bringing the program to an end.

Shamefully, and despite the Sheriff’s blatant lies, roundabout answers, and our show of massive opposition with a strong and clear message, the Supervisors voted to support the Sheriff’s bid for Urban Shield in 2017. Yet this campaign is not over. We’re inspired that the organizing and resistance of our communities and allies were able to put the largest SWAT training in the world completely on the defensive. While the Supervisors voted to approve Urban Shield for fall 2017, we remain committed to strengthening our fight, continuing our struggle against Urban Shield, and ultimately winning.

www.stopurbanshield.org

TAKE ACTION NOW: Call Board of Supervisors Today, Rally Tomorrow.

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On Tuesday January 10, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors will decide whether or not to allow the county Sheriff to receive funding for the Urban Shield police war games and weapons expo.

Tell Alameda County Board of Supervisors: No to Militarization! Vote No on Urban Shield!

Fight for stronger, safer, and healthier communities.

Take these three steps to end Urban Shield now:

1. Call the Board of Supervisors Today, January 9th. Tell them to vote no on Urban Shield!

Please spread the word and encourage your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to let the Board know, we want and end to Urban Shield now! Use the script and contact below or click here.

Sample script:

Dear Supervisor _________,

I am calling/writing to urge you and all Alameda County Board of Supervisors to take leadership in putting an end to the militarization of police and the militarization of disaster preparedness in Alameda County. On Tuesday, you will be asked to decide whether to authorize the Sheriff to enter into an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative. This agreement will give the Sheriff access to funding for the notorious Urban Shield training and weapons expo. As you are surly aware, the divisive election of Donald Trump has raised concerns about an increase in militarized policing and attacks on immigrants, Arabs and Muslims, communities of color, and poor people. We call on you to stand with the communities you represent against such harm. Ending the divisive, dangerous, and xenophobic Urban Shield training and weapons expo is one significant way to do this. Tomorrow, we urge you to say no to the authorization of any funding for Urban Shield. Thank you.

Supervisor Haggerty // shawn.wilson@acgov.org (510) 272-6691
Supervisor Valle // christopher.miley@acgov.org (510) 272-6692
Supervisor Chan // jeanette.dong@acgov.org (510)272-6693
Supervisor Miley // anna.gee@acgov.org (510)272-6694
Supervisor Carson // amy.shrago@acgov.org (510)272-6695

2. Bring yourself and your people out to a Rally and Press Conference on Tuesday, January 10th against Urban Shield. Afterward, pack the boardroom to show that our communities reject Urban Shield. We will meet at the Alameda County Administration Building at 1221 Oak St, Oakland, CA 94612.  Please share the Facebook event page widely!

 

3. Are you an Alameda County Resident? Sign our petition, and share it with your networks.

* * * * *

By listening to the clear and powerful voice of Alameda County Residents, the Board of Supervisors has the opportunity to shift away from the cynical fear mongering at the heart of Urban Shield and toward an approach that responds to genuine Bay Area disaster threats by investing in health, food security, emergency shelter, and community resilience.

For more info, visit: http://stopurbanshield.org/

Defund Urban Shield: Get Involved

On Friday, September 9, 2016, we successfully mobilized hundreds of our friends, neighbors, comrades, coworkers, and family members from across California to disrupt the Urban Shield weapons expo in Pleasanton. Made up of over 15 grassroots organizations with a strategy committee composed of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Critical Resistance, BAYAN USA, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the Xicana Moratorium Coalition, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition is grateful to have joined with you and members of all of our communities to unite against global policing, repression, and militarization.

As a SWAT training and weapons expo that brings together police units from across the country and world – including from Apartheid Israel – Urban Shield seeks to increase the power of policing over our communities by expanding the tools, technology, weaponry, and tactics that are used to oppress people everywhere. But we are fighting back.

Our mobilization against Urban Shield on September 9th made an impact. The Alameda County Fairgrounds where the weapons expo was held was locked down like never before, with no business as usual. One of the police trainings that was scheduled to take place as part of Urban Shield was canceled!Our collective action let the proponents (and profiteers) of Urban Shield  know that our communities will meet the expansion of repression with an expansion of resistance.

On Tuesday, September 13th we delivered our coalition’s report Urban Shield: Abandoning Hope not Building Hope to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.  This is part of our push to pressure this decision making body to stand on the right side of history and end Urban Shield. Report produced by the Stop Urban Shield Coalition on why and how Alameda and San Francisco Counties can defund Urban Shield. Download PDF Here. 

CONTACT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO DEMAND THEY DEFUND URBAN SHIELD!

Supervisor Haggerty
shawn.wilson@acgov.org
(510) 272-6691

Supervisor Valle
christopher.miley@acgov.org
(510) 272-6692

Supervisor Chan
jeanette.dong@acgov.org
(510)272-6693

Supervisor Miley
anna.gee@acgov.org
(510)272-6694

Supervisor Carson
amy.shrago@acgov.org
(510)272-6695

Call to Action from Arab Youth

AROC Youth Reflect on Militarization, Zionism and Repression
Interview with AYO youth leaders, Nora Abedelal and Nour Bouhassoun

Nora Abedelal and Nour Bouhassoun
What are your thoughts on this moment of ongoing attacks on Arabs and Muslims, targeting of Palestinian activism, and criminalization of Black and Brown communities in light of the Movement for Black Lives Platform, and the growing movement against Zionism?Nour: Oppressed people have always stood up for one another. That isn’t something new. The Movement For Black Lives platform illustrates that Black people are demanding their right to self-determination. This requires standing against all forms of oppression including the criminalization of Black and Brown youth, against surveillance, against war, and the attempts to control and militarize our communities.The platform is not just an expression of solidarity with Palestinians. It is more than that. It talks about the real connections between local and global struggles against State violence and recognizes that standing together to fight for economic, social and political power is how we can all achieve self-determination. Zionism is not oppressing one community; it oppresses all communities of color and poor people and helps the US to exercise repression locally and globally.

Nora: While we are seeing a lot of communities showing solidarity with one another, we are also facing a lot of backlash with the rise of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and conservatism in general. We know all of this reflects standard US domestic and foreign policy. So with more solidarity actions comes an increase in policing, surveillance and militarism. That’s why I am not surprised when I learn about events like Urban Shield. These are the ways they try to crush people rising up and taking action.

How can we continue to build on the connections being made between local policing and global repression and continue to fight back?

Nora: We have to understand that when we are engaged in this kind of work, it is inherently in solidarity with other communities because we all suffer from the same systems of oppression; the same systems trying to repress and control us.

We should be investing back into our communities through education, leadership development, and skill building as opposed to body cameras and prettier prisons. I have been seeing a lot of posts on social media about police giving out ice cream and playing basketball with youth. When people see that as a way to solve the problem, then they don’t understand that these are systemic issues that need long term solutions, and require grassroots organizing.

Nour:  People in this moment should know the difference between a tool and a strategy. Some of our youth are focusing too much on social media, which is a great tool, but not a strategy. It doesn’t bring people together on the ground. So what we need is to organize together. We should think of ways to engage in local efforts that weaken these systems and act as a model for the future.

There is a lot of attention on electoral politics now. Even though as we have witnessed for years, no matter who the president is, our conditions remain the same. I wish people would not see those in power as the problem solvers. Problem solvers are those most impacted.

How does stopping Urban Shield serve as a strategy for our movements and the health and well being of our communities?

Nour: Military tactics and training are used against an enemy. And when they train local police with these tactics they are training the police to treat our communities like enemies. When they purchase Israeli weapons and surveillance technology, and learn from Israeli military tactics, they are learning how to treat our communities here the same way the Israeli army oppresses Palestinians. Militarization creates a culture of fear and distrust and reinforces racism, encouraging informants and division in our community. Stopping Urban Shield is a way for our communities to demonstrate that we believe policing and militarization are not okay. If we can stop Urban Shield, we can encourage others to continue to challenge these systems in the face of repression.

Nora: I remember the police came to my house with an M16 rifle. And that is because events like Urban Shield normalize militarization. The police have historically made our communities uncomfortable and have historically repressed and targeted our communities. When I see police at protest with tanks and big guns I think of events like Urban Shield that allow these kinds of things to happen. Stopping Urban Shield would mean that instead of investing in militarization we would be able to invest in our communities. It also helps us take the focus away from individual gun violence, and instead remind people of the role that State violence plays in our everyday lives.

How do folks get involved?

Nora: Show up on September 9th in Pleasanton! Contact the Stop Urban Shield coalition for information on carpools from the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Nour: Organize meetings to learn more about Urban Shield and the ways that we can redirect funding towards community based solutions.

For more information on how you can take Nour and Nora’s lead on mobilizing to stop Urban Shield, visit www.stopurbanshield.org

Palestine Cultural Day

On May 24th, 2016,  the Alameda County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 15th, 2016, the 68th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, as “Palestine Cultural Day.” It is the third proclamation from the board of supervisors recognizing the cultural richness of Palestine and the Palestinian community.

Thank you for those who came out and supported the Proclamation – AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Friends of Sabeel – North America FOSNA Buena Vista United Methodist Church, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance, community members, and allies.

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Watch Lara Kiswani speak to the Alameda Board of Supervisors

Lara Kiswani spoke on behalf of the Arab community: “On behalf of the Arab community, we would like to thank Supervisor Chan for spearheading this Palestine Day proclamation and for the support of all the Supervisors in this effort. As Palestinians in the US, we see this step as not simply an act of recognition, but also an expression of your commitment to hear our community concerns, value our experiences and contributions, and to take a stand for social and racial justice.

We are living in a time where Arabs, Muslims and particularly Palestinians are criminalized, marginalized and often made invisible. We understand this experience as part of a long history of racism and violence that has impacted people of color and poor people all across the world. We understand that recognizing Palestine and Palestinian people is in of itself taking a stand against racism. After all, there are many billions of dollars, energy and political interests that go into wiping our history and identity. Just as historically there have been similar efforts made to erase the history of the Indigenous people of this land, to normalize the segregation of Blacks in Apartheid South Africa. We see ourselves as part of this history, this movement for social justice, part of the global community that strives to achieve self determination, dignity and justice.

We come here today to thank you for your act of solidarity, particularly at this time. And we ask you to put your solidarity into action by taking a stand against Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism. And by extension, taking a stand against all forms of racism, discrimination, and State violence. And we ask you to challenge the inequity, segregation, and militarism that saturate our cities from Ferguson, to Jerusalem to Oakland. There are indeed ways that we can make changes today.

One way we ask you to explore and examine is defunding the attempts to militarize and make war on Arabs, Muslims, poor people and people of color right here in Alameda County. Pay close attention to the way in which Alameda tax dollars are used to make an enemy out of local residents. Things such as the SWAT training and weapons expo known as Urban Shield and hosted in Pleasanton, that celebrates military exercises and encourages emergency responders to relate to people in your backyard, to relate to many of you and your families, as enemies rather than people worthy of health and care. Defunding Urban Shield, stopping military states and human rights’ violators such as Apartheid Israel from training local law enforcement, continuing to invest in and celebrate culture, and community are some steps in that direction. We would be thrilled to partner with you in such efforts to better Alameda County and the lives of all its residents.

Thank you for taking the time to honor our history and culture, to hear our concerns, and see us as part and parcel of social fabric of Alameda County.”

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‪#‎Palestine‬ ‪#‎Palestineculturalday‬ ‪#‎BDS‬ ‪#‎StopUrbanShield‬

AROC Community Defense Training Protect Yourself Against Undercover Cops, Informants and Cooperating Witnesses

Join AROC in partnership with the National Lawyers’ Guild-SF and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for:
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AROC Community Defense Training

Know Your Rights: On the Street, On the Web, and Beyond
اعرف حقك

Protect Yourself Against Undercover Cops, Informants and Cooperating Witnesses

Date: Saturday, June 18, 2016
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00 pm
Location: The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics
518 Valencia Street,
San Francisco, CA

 

منذ الحادي عشر من سبتمبر والعرب والمسلمون (وحتى من يظهرون مثلهم) موضع شبهة وتهديد من قوات الأمن من دون مبرر غير الخلفية العرقية والدينية. وتعاونت عدد من اجهزة الأمن ومنها مراكز الشرطة المحلية، مكتب التحقيقات الفدرالية ال (FBI) ووزارة الأمن الداخلي (DHS) لتشكيل ما يُعرف بالقوة المشتركة لمكافحة الارهاب (JTTF)، والتي اقتطعت اموال من الموازنات العامة من اجل التجسس والإيقاع بأفراد من الجاليات العربية والمسلمة وغيرها في سبيل حرب الولايات المتحدة على الإرهاب. شاركونا يوم السبت الموافق 6/18 في النقاش المجتمعي لمعرفة الكيفية المناسبة للتعامل في مثل هكذا قضايا.

This training is intended for youth, families and activists in the broader community. Come learn about ways to protect yourself, friends and community with digital security, what to do if you or someone you know are visited by law enforcement, or if someone feels that they are being targeted for their political activity.

RSVP by emailing info@araborganizing.org or calling 415-861-7444.

Read NLG statement:

English | Arabic

May Day Event Report Back

Oakland –  Hundreds of people are taking part in a regional march in celebration of this year’s International Workers’ Day, themed Our Vote is in the Streets. Communities traveled from cities across the Bay Area to join people in Oakland for a lively march through East Oakland, beginning in the Fruitvale neighborhood. The regional May Day event this year emphasized the growing movements for workers’ and migrants’ rights, an end to the police and state violence, and international solidarity with all people resisting U.S. imperialism.

A rally began at 12PM that featured inspiring speakers from many different organizations, and exciting performances from the region’s artists and cultural workers, with the march beginning at 1PM.

“As the country is focused on the ridiculous presidential elections, we are here to say that our vote and power is in the streets. Whether Democrat or Republican, this system was not made for us, as Obama’s administration has deported over two and a half million immigrants – more than any other president in history,” said Sagnicthe Salazar of Xicana Moratorium Coalition, one of the lead organizers of the march. “We’re coming together this May Day to amplify the resistance of migrants, workers, and communities of color.”

Speakers during the march made connections between the powerful upsurge of immigrant peoples’ ongoing struggles for civil and human rights across the country, the increased outrage of Black and Brown communities against policing and state violence, and the struggles against U.S. imperialism internationally.

“May Day is a celebration of international solidarity, and the Bay Area is continuing that legacy by marching against state violence, whether that is the policing of Black and Brown communities here, or U.S. imperialism abroad,” says Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. “We demand an end to collaborations between oppressive regimes, such as between the U.S. and Israel, and march in solidarity with oppressed people fighting for self-determination all over the world.”

“The US continues its attack on immigrants and people of color, particularly Black communities, but our struggle and organizing have intensified,” says Devonte Jackson of Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “In cities everywhere, the routine violence of the police is being challenged more than ever, and we are here to uplift that resistance, and demand our dignity.”

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Media Round-up:

  1. CBS Local 5: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/category/news-local-news/3394048-may-day-marchers-protest-across-the-bay-area/
  2. San Jose Mercury: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_29839019/oakland-roughly-1200-people-demand-social-justice-at
  3. NBC Bay Area : http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Scattered-May-Day-Protests-Shine-Light-on-Social-Injustice-Wage-Discrepancies–377754961.html
  4. SF Gate: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-May-Day-march-fuels-economic-political-7386797.php#photo-9927907
  5. San Jose Mercury: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_29837659/bay-area-may-day-hundreds-march-support-workers
  6. The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/02/may-day-protesters-immigration-donald-trump-seattle-los-angeles
  7. CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/may-day-marches-held-across-the-us-seattle-los-angeles-san-francisco-portland/
  8. Real News Network: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=16248

On International Women’s Day, we honor our beloved Rasmea Odeh

On International Women’s Day, we honor our beloved Rasmea Odehrasmea2 In commemoration of International Women’s Day, AROC community and allies gathered in San Francisco at 518 Valencia: The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics Saturday evening to celebrate the granting of the appeal of Rasmea Odeh’s unjust conviction and learn about ways to organize in her defense.

Speakers, Nadine Naber and Lina Baroudi, shed light on Odeh’s work in the Arab immigrant and refugee community and the impact this decision has on the lives of hundreds of women in Chicago, immigrants and communities all across the US.

As anti-immigrant sentiment continues to rise in national debates, supporters of Rasmea Odeh, a long-time community leader for Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim women immigrants in the US, are continuing to fight against state violence and repression. Rasmea, the Palestinian American icon, was convicted of a politically motivated immigration violation in 2014, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and subsequent deportation.

Donate to her defense and get involved in supporting Free Rasmea Now: www.justice4rasmea.org

Contact AROC to get involved with the Bay Area defense committee or to organize an event or meeting for your community or organization.

‪#‎justice4rasmea‬

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