As your constituents, we are writing you to express our deep concerns about the controversial Urban Shield training and weapons expo held in Alameda County. We feel strongly that the Board of Supervisors should exclude Urban Shield as an exercise hosted by the county. Alameda County has an opportunity to seek funding for emergency response resources that prioritize health and wellbeing and not militarized policing. We hope you, along with your fellow supervisors, take this opportunity to defund Urban Shield now.
As residents of your district, we are extremely supportive of Alameda County developing, supporting, and increasing its capacity to respond to emergencies. However, we are not supportive of divisive and dangerous programs such as Urban Shield. We know that Urban Shield is billed as an emergency preparedness activity. Yet, the war games perpetuate racist and xenophobic stereotypes, increase the use of militarized weaponry and tactics in everyday law enforcement, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Since 2007, the lion’s share of funding that could be supporting emergency preparedness in the Bay Area has been poured into increasing the militarization of local law enforcement.
The climate of increased police killings, militarized SWAT raids and sweeps, and surveillance technologies including drones has frayed already tattered community/police relations, destabilized neighborhoods, and broken up families across the Bay Area – particularly for communities of color, immigrants, and working class people. With the recent election of Trump to the presidency, this climate will undoubtedly continue and worsen in the coming years.
Prioritizing programs like Urban Shield over resources and initiatives that actually support the health and wellbeing of our communities only further disenfranchises communities. Urban Shield is failing the Bay Area when it comes to preparing ourselves for the emergencies to which we are particularly vulnerable. The time has come for the Bay Area to shift its orientation toward preparing for emergencies. We insist that the health and wellbeing impacts of such preparation lead our efforts rather than go left unaddressed. UASI funding could be mobilized to support that shift.
Alameda County decision makers play an important role in determining the nature, form, and implementation of the county’s emergency preparedness. Shifting disaster preparedness priorities toward community strength and resilience and away from war games and militarization is an important way to demonstrate a commitment to shoring up preparedness without making the county’s communities vulnerable. We ask that you and the rest of the Board of Supervisors use your power to restrict or approve the resources for which the Sheriff’s Department applies and receives, and reject any UASI funds that include Urban Shield.
Thank you for your attention and action on this important matter.