National Day of Action against Fusion Centers

Bay Area and LA event information below about three California protests on Thursday April 10, the National Day of Action Against Fusion Centers! -Art Persyko

SHUT DOWN THE SPY CENTERS
National Day of Action against Fusion Centers

dac

April 10th is the National Day of Action against Fusion Centers. Protests, rallies, and teach-ins will take place in cities all over the country to draw attention to the spy centers in our midst. Fusion Centers facilitate the gathering, storing, and sharing of intelligence data that bares our lives and violate our basic human rights to privacy and civil liberties. There are an estimated 85 fusion centers all over the United States.

There will be two Bay Area events:

Press Conference at NCRIC Fusion Center in San Francisco

11:00am – Thursday, April 10
Northern California Regional Intelligence Center
450 Golden Gate Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Oakland Press Conference / Rally at City Hall

6:00pm – Thursday, April 10
Oakland City Hall
14th & Broadway
Oakland, CA
And please see below for additional information about tomorrow’s protest in LA (with suggestions for actions that anyone who lives in California can take) from a forwarded message from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition:

National Day of Action Against Fusion Centers -

Boston- Charlotte- – Dallas- Los Angeles- Oakland*- San Francisco*- Washington D.C.
Today April 10th, community members across the nation will be gathering to protest and expose Mega-Spy Centers that are infiltrating our communities. These Mega Spy Centers a.k.a Fusion Centers collect and store information supplied by various law enforcement agencies and share this information to local, state and federal agency including private contractors. There are approximately 85 fusion centers in the U.S. -the Norwalk, CA Fusion Center is one of the largest in the country -known as Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC). On March 11, 2014 the New York Times revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the sharing of raw NSA data with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the agency oversees that programs like fusion centers. NSA spying has come home to roost; through fusion centers, local police may have access, without a warrant, to all the data the NSA has on you.

We will be live streaming, check it out here:

Live STREAM 1

Live STREAM 2

CALL, FACEBOOK, EMAIL, TWEET now to demand all Fusion Centers be de-funded, shutdown, and all secret files released!

VIA PHONE
Governor Jerry Brown at (916) 445-2841
CA Controller John Chiang at (916) 445-2636
CA Assembly Public Safety Chair Tom Ammiano at (916) 319-2017
CA Senate Public Safety Chair Loni Hancock at (916) 651-4009

It looks to me like sport hunting: the killing of 14 year old Yusef a-Shawamreh

[The following article is an unpublished op ed by Mondoweiss editor-at-large Annie Robbins.]

It looks to me like sport hunting: the killing of 14 year old Yusef a-Shawamreh
unpublished op ed Annie Robbins on April 6, 2014

A lot has been written about the killing of 14 year old Yusef Shawamreh. Investigations have taken place. Some people have called the manner of his death a war crime, a term wielded against Israel so often, and nary one impending retribution, the term has become almost meaningless. But to me, Shawamreh’s killing looks like another hunting incident. Under different circumstances, more commonly known as sport hunting.

Let’s begin with the photo of “a small boy, blue-eyed”, next to a fence on his father’s land. He is on one of his many plant-foraging excursions. “It was taken a few days before his death at the very spot at which he was killed.”

To arrive at the spot in which he was killed, the boy follows a descending dirt trail. The boy has followed the trail innumerable times, daily during the plant-picking season.

How Sport Hunting Works:
To be truly successful, a hunter studies its prey and learns its behaviors, habits and tracks. Off in the distance the soldiers, camouflaged, watched the boy and his friends. Two days before, other boys were beaten by police in this very same spot for traversing the very same area.

It was nothing personal:

The trio walked the same trail we did this week, alongside olive trees, wheat fields and a peach grove. The soldiers spotted them from a long way off; the whole area is exposed. It is also rife with security cameras. But the soldiers waited until the three went through the barriers and started to walk toward the field on the other side, which belongs to the dead boy’s family. Then they started shooting – using live ammunition, it must be emphasized.

Yusef ran for his life. A bullet struck him in the back of the thigh as he tried to get over the safety railing. He collapsed, bleeding badly.

The boy bled to death.

photo: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images

Relatives of Palestinian teenager Yussef Shawamreh mourn outside his house in the West Bank village of Deir al-Asal, 15 kilometres from Hebron on March 19, 2014 after he was shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials and the Israeli military said. Witnesses said the victim had been foraging for local plants when he was shot.

How Sport Hunting Works

As hunting is no longer a necessary means for survival, its presence in our society is under scrutiny. While some want to maintain the time-honored tradition, others want to see a pastime they feel is unfair restricted by law. Hunting has evolved into a sport and gained a fan base and an opposition. Those who enjoy the sport can find its positive attributes, but anti-hunting organizations see it as cruel treatment of animals.

….Whether you’re for or against sport hunting, it seems that a consensus won’t be reached anytime soon.

The mentality of the hunter and his fan base:

“This is mine, I am the law here, I am the sovereign.”

McRobbed On the Job!!! #FightFor15

Yesterday I had the privilege of driving these workers around to support this action, and their important campaign for $15 and a union, and against wage theft.

FightFor15

They are easily the hardest working people I’ve ever met, yet get paid minimum wage to serve people all day and get treated like shit by their bosses.

fightIII

As if that’s not bad enough, while the fast food industry is one of the most profitable in the U.S. and their execs are raking in millions, the criminals in charge have the nerve to systemically practice stealing these workers money, by not paying them for all their time worked.

In the past, McDonald’s has tried to shield itself from liability,” said Joseph Sellers, one of the attorneys bringing suit. But “we found evidence that McDonald’s has indeed exerted control over the daily operations” of the franchised stores that “makes it legally jointly responsible” for the alleged crimes.”

In exactly the same manner that “our” officials say there is NO money for social services and programs, meanwhile they have endless money for war and occupation – corporations have plenty of money to pay their employees a living wage – they simply choose not to. The only chance we stand is if we continue to stand up, and support and build the labor / movement in stregth and power, and fight back to demand our rights!

fightII
#SupportTheWorkers #FightFor15 #WageTheft #RobbedOnTheJob #BoycottFastFood

The truth about money!

This week the Bank of England admitted the irony of all ironies: the money that it (and all central banks, corporations and gov’ts worldwide) use to control, imprison and enslave us, is utterly worthless!

The fact is, quite literally speaking, the value of the dollar is not even worth the paper it’s printed on. Instead, the value of money is measured not by “how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow.”

So basically, when we agree to borrow money to purchase a home or car etc., we willingly hand over control of the commodity or resources, to the these banks and allow them own, and control us. Then we work and struggle every day, all day, to pay it back – all the while owing them for nothing that they have effectively done. Meanwhile they cheat, steal and plunder our lives work away and the government rewards them with bank bail outs to the tune of trillions! FOR WHAT?!

sufferin succotash

sufferin succotash

“Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.

It is this lack of understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource, so when ‘officials’ say things like, “there’s just not enough money to fund social programs” while speaking of government debt: “What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards”.

Food for thought.

CODEPINK DC, outside Department of Justice protesting president Obama’s speech on the #NSA reforms.

Image

CODEPINK DC, outside Department of Justice protesting president Obama's speech on the #NSA reforms.

PLEASE take a moment to sign and share the petition below, and help keep the NSA from setting up its massive surveillance state otherwise known as the DAC – http://oaklandwiki.org/Domain_Awareness_Center in Oakland, California. Big shout out to Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney for voting against this in the last city council meeting, let’s force the others to join her!

On Jan. 17, 2014 — President Obama gave his speech re: the changes in the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. His speech comes after over six months of debate sparked by Edward Snowden about the NSA’s far reaching programs, which forced him to answer for the huge violation on civil liberties. Still critics’ fears were not subsided. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder responded to the speech by saying:

“I think it’s embarrassing for a head of state like that to go on for almost 45 minutes and say almost nothing. … It’s clear that the President would not be speaking today without the actions of Edward Snowden and whiste-blowers before him. … Security whistleblowers have forced this debate. This president has been dragged, kicking and screaming, to today’s address. He’s been very reluctant to make any concrete reforms, and unfortunately, today we also see very few concrete reforms.”

The speech also comes exactly 53 years to the day, after the historic speech former President Dwight Eisenhower made, warning us precisely of the unlimited power of the military industrial complex, we’re seeing today:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

No matter where you are based, please do your part as alert and informed citizenry, by signing and sharing the following petition. Because just as the unlimited power of the NSA, the effects of the success or failure, of these bankrupt policies – that are proven to do NOTHING to keep us safe…and only benefit the military contractors and industrial complex – are beyond borders, and truly unlimited.

BDS Receives Unprecedented Support from Academia this week!

Wading through the flood’s of bad news this week coming from Palestine, there were two major pieces of news that gave pause and reason for hope, and have the potential to tip the scale as we know it. This week, two very serious academic institutions: the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), declared their support for the Palestinian call for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, or BDS.

Based on the model used to end Apartheid in South Africa, in July 2005, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) put forward the following statement:

We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid. Read more

In a democratic election that engaged the largest number of members in the organization’s history, 66.05% of ASA voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no.

It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

And the Indigenous Studies NAISA’s governing body announced in a

“Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions. As the elected council of an international community of Indigenous and allied non-Indigenous scholars, students, and public intellectuals who have studied and resisted the colonization and domination of Indigenous lands via settler state structures throughout the world, we strongly protest the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the legal structures of the Israeli state that systematically discriminate against Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples.

This recognition is particularly significant because it aligns the indigenous people of the Americas, with those of the Arab world to stand together in a powerful act of solidarity.

As a Palestinian commentator Yousef Munayyer wrote, regarding the expected and considerable backlash by the establishment: “Years from now, we will look back at moments, such as the American Studies Association’s decision, just as we can look back today on the 1979 argument against fighting South African apartheid. And we’ll remember who chose to be on the right side of history.” Boycott a sting to Israeli apartheid

Boycotts are the weapons of the dispossessed; they are pleas for global solidarity from people who have few other forms of power. They are peaceful attempts to disrupt business as usual by setting up a global picket-line and by asking us not to cross that picket line. The ASA National Council has heeded Palestinians’ call for an academic boycott, and ASA members have been asked to give their endorsement.

The boycott movement has clearly defined goals of ending the occupation, ending discrimination against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and ending forced exile and ongoing expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. All three of these place profound restrictions on Palestinian academic life.

Meanwhile while in South Africa this week, the so-called President of the Palestinian Authority (whose term expired in January 2009) Abbas, perhaps missing the irony took a stand against BDS. By doing so he has exposed himself as the antithesis of being in touch with (reality!) or the grassroots. The global grassroots movement have lost all hope in a political solution and will not wait around for him and his ilk to come around. He and his PA cronies have revealed their true allegiance, to the demands of international donors and Israel than to those of Palestinians.

BDS is a growing global grassroots movement that unites Palestinians and their supporters across the world.

BE IT RESOLVED that every massacre, and each barbaric, cruel turning up of the notch of occupation – only strengthens our power, our numbers and our resolve. Just as in South Africa, BDS is the only and best hope to end the tyranny of the zionist occupation – AND strangle hold on US academia and institutions worldwide, and is simply unstoppable.

Please consider joining the ASA

Gaza Updates

EMERGENCY AID ALERT: PLEASE DONATE TO MECA: to purchase and distribute food, milk, plastic sheets to cover roofs and windows, powdered milk for children, blankets, socks, pajamas and jackets.

Approximately 10,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to widespread flooding in the Gaza Strip, according to a report released Saturday evening by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

11OCHA: Number of displaced tops 10,000 in Gaza

Gaza this weekend. UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, yesterday called for “effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza” so that Palestinians can deal effectively with this crisis and rebuild.

Gaza this weekend.
UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, yesterday called for “effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza” so that Palestinians can deal effectively with this crisis and rebuild.

HISTORIC: The New York Times reports – Scholars’ Group Endorses an Academic Boycott of Israel
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA- December 16, 2013

An association of American professors with almost 5,000 members has voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities, the group announced Monday, making it the largest academic group in the United States to back a growing movement to isolate Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

GAZA IS NOT A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER: IT’S A ZIONIST MADE CATASTROPHE

Please write, share and take action against “Hunger Games” Gaza!!

The situation in Gaza is literally sinking, to filthy new depths. A zionist-made humanitarian crisis; created by an illegal but internationally accepted ‘siege’, held in place by an apartheid regime, fully supported and financed by the U.S., made possible by Egypt and the corporate media’s silence/complicity.

Judging by media sources, the unknowing observer might think a typhoon hit the Gaza Strip last week, causing extreme and severe levels of flooding, damage and suffering – and that there’s actually help on the way! You can’t blame them though, after reading such headlines (IF it even makes it into “mainstream” press): from the Washington Post Gaza Strip receives fuel after battered by storm OR CBC: Gaza receives first fuel shipment in weeks as storm causes havoc . In fact, not only would one not know it is a zionist made catastrophe, one might even believe that those responsible for creating it, are actually doing something to ease the suffering…

GAZA_sinking

BUT ONE WOULD BE SERIOUSLY MISTAKEN! NOT ONLY DO ZIONISTS NOT CARE TO REDUCE SUFFERING, THEY ACTUALLY CREATED THE WORLD’S LARGEST PRISON, WHICH IS GAZA AND NOW TO TOP IF OFF: ISRAEL OPENS THE DAMS FLOODING ADDING TO THE CRISIS NOW AS A RESULT OF THE SIEGE, AND BLOCKADE 1.5 MILLION PEOPLE ARE TRAPPED, LITERALLY DROWNING IN FLOOD WATER OF SEWAGE, TRASH AND FILTH – AT MAJOR RISK OF DISEASE.

Carlos Latuff

Carlos Latuff


Gaza government estimated initial material losses at 64 million dollars and according to Maan News:

UNRWA spokesperson said that large regions of the Gaza Strip are a “disaster area” and called on the world community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed, in a statement sent to Ma’an. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands. Thousands have been displaced into freezing died Gaza has been unable to pump sewage for more than a month, as power plants have shut down for lack of fuel. The fuel shortages – which were causing daily power cuts of 12-16 hours even before the crisis caused by storm Alexa – are mainly a result of the Egyptian authorities’ destruction of most of the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

GAZA_sinking

HUNGER GAMES – GAZA EDITION

The “blockade” which began in 2006 – is really collective punishment of 1.7 million people, for the crime of participating in democratic elections, which results are unfavorable to zionists. Since then Gaza has become the world’s largest open air prison, much like a “hunger games” or survival experiment in pushing people to their limits. In some room with a large glass ceiling, I can practically hear military and political elite asking questions like: how far can we turn up the pressure cooker before reaching the boiling point? What are the newest tactics and techniques we can use to do so, what weapons should we test, and how much humiliation can we enact before the whole world wakes up. Because, at the end of the day this ‘conflict’ is ultimately a war of public opinion.

Upon learning about the insidious hidden nature of zionism, well intentioned observers often say things like: “I don’t understand how, after what Jews have suffered as a people, they can be so cruel and unfeeling.”

Ultimately those that care to dig further, begin to see the stark comparison between zionism and nazism. Today the US, and Europe unconditionally support zionism, just like they did with other morally and politically bankrupt systems – that practice white supremacy before it. The US supported apartheid in South Africa, until the very end – which is why it’s nauseating to hear all the official tributes to Mandela, after the same criminals labeled him a terrorist until 2008. The US and Europe also supported Nazism in Germany until the bitter end–before they were shamed, or forced to stand against it.

Recently musician Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd earned the ire of zionists because he dared to state what is obvious to those ‘in the know’: “Israeli treatment of the Palestinians can be compared to the atrocities of Nazi Germany. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.”

For anyone intimately aware of the current situation on the ground in Palestine, the similarities are crushingly obvious: they are both exclusive European political ideologies, premised on the notion of a superior race, with the goal of eliminating the rest. They both come from settler colonial mentalities, both seek to control the resources and land over the indigenous people and they will both go to any lengths necessary, to fulfill what they see as their divine destiny.

Some of the differences of Zionism is that Nazism headed by Hitler lasted from 1921-1945, and zionism has been the political system in Palestine for more than 65 years. Ironically, the current system of apartheid officially began (it was another type of colonialism form before that), for Afrikans under apartheid in 1948 (same time the zionist state was created), and ended in 1994. Of course all of those racist systems and regimes had intricate ties to each other, were selling and/or receiving weapons and learning from one other.

In order to reverse the situation from going from catastrophic to worse in Gaza, we must address the root cause of the problem. Unless we look at the political and economic systems that ultimately drive the agenda, at the end of the day no amount of “peace talks”, negotiations or humanitarian aid, will change a thing.

Today the growing global movement for justice has removed all hope from political leaders, and taken matters into our own hands. BDS undermines this inherently corrupt and racist system at its most vulnerable areas, economically, culturally and politically.

Information is severely lacking, but I will try to post updates of the deteriorating crisis here.

MEANWHILE, PLEASE HELP BY DEMANDING AN END TO THE SIEGE OF GAZA AND DONATING IF YOU CAN!

Sign this petition: Calling on the United Nations to investigate and hold Israel to account for the war crimes & crimes against humanity they commit on a daily basis

Call, email, fax:
1 The U.S. State Department. Insist it tell Israel and Egypt to Open the Crossings to the Gaza Strip. Call 202-647-4000; select option 4 and ask the operator for the comment line. (You get one minute to record your message.)

2. The White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ Alternatively, write to: President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 Call: 202-456-1414 Fax: 202-456-2461

3. The Office of Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations at sgcentral@un.org

4. Contact the Near and Middle East Desk at The International Committee of the Red Cross Ms. Dibeh FAKHR Tel: +41 22 730 37 23 Mobile: +41 79 447 37 26 or fill out the form at http://www.icrc.org/eng/directory/?contactId=303023

4. Contact the Near and Middle East Desk at The International Committee of the Red Cross Ms. Dibeh FAKHR Tel: +41 22 730 37 23 Mobile: +41 79 447 37 26 or fill out the form at http://www.icrc.org/eng/directory/?contactId=303023

Actions:
Palestinian Refugees Right to Return, Al-Awda wants to HELP PALESTINIANS IN GAZA URGENTLY

Oakland Battles City Hall over Surveillance State #DAC

Dee does a human mic/mic check in the middle of the circus that was city hall Tuesday night.

Dee does a human mic/mic check in the middle of the circus that was city hall Tuesday night.

Despite widespread opposition by Oakland residents, business owners and activists, deeply concerned about the attack on civil liberties and privacy-the Orwellian project known as the *Domain Awareness Center (DAC). The DAC was initiated and funded by the Department of Homeland Security, which if they have it their way, will move forward with their plan to build an unparalleled surveillance center, to spy on the people of Oakland.

Public comment at the city council meeting went until 2:30 Wednesday morning, which drew the ire of activists who felt that the city council pushed back the agenda item as a stalling tactic. Nonetheless, at wee hours in the morning residents spoke about their concerns of the massive surveillance system and invasion of privacy, while raising critical issues and questions. Speakers made a compelling case against this misguided project which is brought to us by the corrupt and morally bankrupt priorities of the Federal government, which have nothing to do with “keeping us safe”- as is the stated goal.

In this scheme, they partner with companies that have legacies of corruption, and human rights abuses (and are known #BDS offenders) such as G4S, Motorola Solutions and SAIC (which was recently dropped due to its record) and push them on the local level-by dangling low fruit of desperately needed funds. It is also worth mentioning, that the Feds are the one’s to cut the budget when it comes to pesky things like: education, health care, food stamps and housing; otherwise known as things that REALLY keep communities safe. Meanwhile their solution for public safety is to pour countless trillions of dollars into war and occupation abroad, and prisons at home for the military contractors that are always seeking new clients and to expand their markets which they seem to have found in Oakland City Council…

Not if we have anything to say about it!

Dee does a Mic Check in the middle of the circus that was city hall last night!

Dee interrupts the city council meeting last night with a mic check!

Activists believe that the city doesn’t fully comprehend the vast implications involved, or the appreciate the process-for which Oakland is being used as a testing ground, if this continues unhindered. Still the effort didn’t change most of the council’s minds, “even as members struggled to discuss the issue over the deafening chants of protesters demanding the council delay a decision: “Table it! Table it! Table it!”.

Resistance is our only option.

    Activists warned that other city officials should be prepared for an ongoing surveillance campaign against them – while they are leaving their homes and in public places, with friends and loved ones.

    Activists surveill the surveillers at city council meeting 11/19.

    Activists surveill the surveillers at city council meeting 11/19.

    Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, was the only member to vote against the resolution, saying she had too many unanswered questions. She also was the only one to vote no to Urban Shield, at the Public Safety meeting in September, by similar tactics that prioritize militarizing the police for “public safety”, directed to Oakland by the Federal government (see previous posts) for the past 7 years.

    By the wee hours of the morning, activists didn’t know whether to scream or cry at the tragic comedy playing out before us. So many just broke into hysterical laughter when Councilwoman Libby Schaff said things like, maybe they didn’t need to plug in the cameras, to record us – making clear she fully understood the implications at stake.

    This charade is yet another blatant reminder that “democracy” is just an illusion, and only manifests itself to the level and extent the people demand it to. When you think about it, all the freedoms and rights we have anywhere, are only the one’s we fought for.

    Oakland, due to its history and legacy of resistance, reminds me of Gaza, Palestine and that’s why they are both testing grounds for the harshest policies, weapons and tactics against poor, black and brown people. ‘They’ think/know, if they get away with it here, they can get away with it anywhere! They’re probably right.

    Email OaklandPrivacy@gmail.com for more info, or find out how you can get involved.

    #1984 #OccupyOakland #ResistenceIsExistence #ExpectUS

    Protester speaks against the sham of a process.

    *The DAC will act as a fusion center, aggregating video feeds and real-time data from a number of sources around Oakland. Possible program components for the DAC include integration of closed-circuit video feeds (CCTV) from all over Oakland, including 700 cameras at Oakland public schools and 135 cameras at the Oakland Coliseum complex. Video and data feeds from all over Oakland are to be aggregated and monitored at the DAC, then analyzed with license plate recognition software, thermal imaging and body movement recognition software, possibly facial recognition software, and more, all with absolutely no privacy or data-retention policies in place, or substantive debate at the committee or council level about the program.” http://oaklandwiki.org/Domain_Awareness_CenterSix #1984

    1. Oakland surveillance center protest dissipates; Will Kane, November 20, 2013: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-surveillance-center-protest-dissipates-4995249.php#src=fb

Community groups organize against urban war games in Oakland

Oakland City Council members were surprised at recent meetings to hear opposition to what would ordinarily have been a rubber-stamp approval of a Fire Department reimbursement request. The resolution in question provides funding for Urban Shield, an annual event sponsored by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. Oakland is a city which is already known for having transparency issues, “a deeply troubled police department under federal oversight”, and a “process that shields the people making key decisions about its future from much public scrutiny”1. This year, community groups gathered together, and came forward to challenge officials on these specific issues raised by Urban Shield, namely: transparency, accountability, human rights and funding priorities.

The resolution requested $200,000 to reimburse the Fire Department for a “safety drill”–part of what Urban Shield’s sponsors sell to the public as disaster-preparedness training for local police and fire departments. Meanwhile, public records show that the Sheriff’s office is being paid up to $7.5 million in federal funding for Urban Shield. In reality, Urban Shield is the largest urban SWAT exercise in the USA and includes “competitions” that take place throughout Bay Area city streets, simulating the use of force against protesters, as well as a trade show that private manufacturers use to market their latest weaponry, crowd control gear and other hardware to police.

For activists, the event represents an intersection of many of the problems facing ordinary people today-in particular police violence and investment in militarism rather than in public services. These issues include the Oakland Police Department’s violent suppression of the occupy movement, as well as police killings of unarmed civilians like Oscar Grant–murdered by a BART officer who claimed have been to be reaching for a taser like those sold as “non-lethal” tools by Urban Shield vendors. The exercises also connect with misplaced funding priorities that feed a culture of militarism, heavy-handed policing and incarceration, rather than addressing community needs such as jobs, healthcare, housing and education.

There are now at least 50,000 SWAT raids every year in the United States. Oakland’s own “Tango Teams” have injured and killed numerous Oakland residents over the years, including protesters and journalists during OPD’s war on Occupy Oakland. According to Police Magazine, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.” The law enforcement trade publication also suggests that cops should expect to face off against protesters more often “given today’s continuing sour economy.” James Baker, who is president of Cytel, the company that oversees the event, said after the 2011 games that Urban Shield had already helped coordinate the state response to the protests after Oscar Grant’s killing: “The planning was amazing.”

Urban Shield also reaches beyond the US. It brings together more than 150 local, state, federal, and international agencies as well as private defense contractors–and includes police from Bahrain, Israel, Guam and Brazil, to name only a few of the participants with lengthy records of misconduct and human rights violations. The tactics taught are used by Israeli colonialism and Bahrain’s dictatorship, which keep subject populations under military occupation. Reverend Daniel Buford of Allen Temple Baptist Church suggested to the Oakland City Council that if the city was to connect with the Israeli government, it ought to be about how to keep Israeli weaponry such as Uzis “off our streets and out of the hands of our young people, rather than training our people on how to do checkpoints like they do on Palestinians.”

Following public comment, most council members were visibly taken aback by the nature of this event, and criticized a police representative for failing to provide them with clear information in advance. Several councilors also voiced concern around the “culture of violence” that this represented, and took issue with the kind of image and message this “gun show” sent to young people. One council member, Lynette McElhaney, thanked the clergy and activists who opposed it for being “the conscience of our community”, and several expressed disagreement with the spending priorities behind federal funding in general. In the end, nevertheless, the reimbursement went through, with just two council members, McElhaney and Rebecca Kaplan, voting against it–and one abstention. However, the Council voted unanimously to send a letter to the Oakland Marriott which is the main venue for Urban Shield 2013, informing the hotel of their disapproval.

Urban Shield opponents plan to continue organizing at the Alameda County level, and mobilize for the October 10th meeting of the Board of Supervisors who oversee the Sheriff hosting the event. Urban Shield’s October 25 kick-off exhibition will be met with a day-long community witness and walking picket, followed by a 5pm rally.

As a coalition outreach letter explains:

Recognizing that, for people of color, poor and working class people, gender and sexually non-conforming communities, and other oppressed groups, heightened policing hardly translates into safer communities, but rather greater surveillance, incarceration, and repression of progressive and radical social movements, our coalition has formed to refuse the ongoing militarization of our communities and to advocate for alternatives to policing… While we may not be able to stop Urban Shield this year, if we use Urban Shield 2013 as an opportunity to do education, outreach, and cross-movement building, perhaps we can stop it from happening again.

In Urban Shield, we see that these instances of violence are not just parallel, but are actually the product and collaboration of some of the same institutions, backed by the US Federal Government. The people who carry the weapons have often trained together, and the same companies profit from the militarization of police inside the US and the sale of tools of repression abroad. The availability of vast sums of money through federal grants, like those supporting Urban Shield, to wage “war” on terrorism or drugs, but not on poverty, encourages local officials to look to repression and incarceration to solve social problems. More fundamentally, responsibility lies with the inhuman priorities of a system which always finds funding and resources for violence, but is unable or unwilling to meet real human needs when it does not happen to be profitable.

Urban Shield has grown considerably since the Alameda County Sheriff began hosting it six years ago. These violent war games are not new, a predecessor exercise named “Urban Warrior” took place in 1999, and served strikingly similar purposes: “To ready Marines for the likelihood that battles in the 21st Century will be focused in the world’s rapidly expanding urban areas” and to test “combat operations in an urban environment against a backdrop of civil unrest, and restore order.” But training for urban combat once reserved for Marines now seems to have moved to local police departments.

The Facing Urban Shield Action Network was initiated out of the War Resisters League’s Facing Tear Gas campaign, and more than 30 Oakland community organizations have signed on, including the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County and a number of faith-based organizations such as Allen Temple Baptist Church, social and economic justice coalitions and NGOs such as Berkeley Cop Watch, the Bay Area New PrioritiesCampaign, the East Bay Alliance for a Safe Economy, and local chapters of national organizations such as the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the International Socialist Organization and many more.

1) Thomas Peele: Opaqueland works hard to keep the public in the dark; Contra Costa Times, 9/28/2013 – http://www.contracostatimes.com/columns/ci_24183740/thomas-peele-opaqueland-works-hard-keep-public-dark