Following is a report back about Tuesday night’s, Oakland public safety/city council meeting, which the Facing Urban Shield Action Network (FUSAN) called the public out to attend. Tuesday October 1st, is the main city council meeting and we really need folks to come out to that as well.
On Tuesday, September 24th, the Oakland city council’s “public safety committee” was supposed to approve ‘reimbursing’ (i.e. rubber stamp) the fire department’s participation in this year’s war games, otherwise known as ‘Urban Shield’. The text of the proposal was hidden as a harmless reimbursement of just $200,000 for a “safety drill” for the Fire Department. Yet we’ve seen reports that Alameda county has received up to $7.5 million dollars, in Federal funding, to host Urban Shield. We have requested public records, and done extensive research, yet have not been able to locate a single budget that clearly shows where this money is going, or has gone (blowing the lid on the level of corruption that likely exists, and who is profiting from this?). Therefore, as has been the case for the past seven years this ‘trade show’ has taken place in Oakland, council members had no idea what they were really voting for.
Our goal was modest, as we knew it would be difficult to get the committee to reject reimbursing funds already spent, even if they fundamentally disagreed with the purpose. Still we thought it was important to be there, to raise awareness to the city council (who sincerely seemed to know nothing about it) and the public. So, after public comment – instead of all the members voting to blindly rubber stamp this process- as would surely have otherwise been done, one very fabulous council member Lynette McElhaney understood exactly what was going on – and was highly disturbed by the whole charade. She even ended up voting against it and called into question the whole process for which they were being clearly manipulated and deceived. This caused a significant public debate and discussion, and made everyone that supported Urban Shield with the illusion of “public safety”, super defensive – namely the fire(chief?) representative, that was there requesting the reimbursement.
Even Council members that voted to pass it, openly shared their disgust of the idea of Urban Shield and linked it to Federal funding / priorities, which was interesting. It was also brought to our attention that gun shows/sales are (at least on the policy level) not allowed in Oakland. So the question was raised as to why was this massive display of weaponry being made available, much less so irresponsibly used, throughout the city streets.
The good news is, this is far from over as there is another vote by the whole city council, next tuesday, October 1st! So we still have a chance to educate the public and other council members, and bring this to light and we really need everyone to help turn folks out!
Thanks also to everyone that’s supported this network. It was our first/coming out action, and if any indication a very promising show, of more great team-work to come! Let’s work on having a strong presence next week.
*Also city council members – have many more reasons to be on our side – and so the goal is to make enough noise to [get them to] influence the COUNTY, which holds the purse strings and is largely driving this effort behind the scenes.
SAY NO TO MILITARIZING THE POLICE! SAY NO TO URBAN SHIELD!
Here’s a great article that was written about the action at City Hall:
For more info the campaign and those involved in the action network, see: http://facingteargas.org/facing-urban-shield-action-network
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