How Organizers in One City Are Trying to Stop Militarization From Slipping Into Their Community

Oakland activists are working to stop Urban Shield, a militarized weapons expo and training program, from coming to town.

Heavily armed officers, weapons drawn, move across a bridge draped with a banner reading “No war for oil” and “We are the 99%.” One corner of the banner sports the A anarchist symbol. Shortly after, they capture their targets: protesters.

This scene may be all too familiar to protesters. But it’s actually a staged police training put on by Urban Shield, a SWAT team training program and weapons expo that has taken place in the Bay Area for the past seven years.

What offends local organizers, is not rescue training scenarios, but using political protesters as fodder for crowd control training. “In past years, Urban Shield has featured hostage-taking scenarios involving animal rights activists, and the bombing of an oil platform by Anarchists.”

And there are no trainings at police departments nationwide, let alone Urban Shield, to de-escalate confrontations between civilians and police.

There are no seminars, no workshops that are talking about how to disarm or interact with a young black man without murdering him..”

i repeat: police are using protestors as enemies in their training sessions in order to militarily train themselves.


Interpol in black & white | Fox Theater | Oakland, CA 9/20/14

// Kevin Figueroa