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. This year, as last, Urban Shield’s weapon show takes place in the Oakland Marriot Convention Center in downtown Oakland, CA, September 4-8.
In a city that has a tense relationship with police, hosting a conference that is ultimately an effort to militarize policing and hawk weaponry doesn't sit well with community members, who are organizing to stop Urban Shield from coming to town.
“They try to put Urban Shield under this umbrella of public safety because there’s also collaboration with fire departments and emergency medical response teams,” said Kamau Walton, a War Resisters League organizer. “But the tools and the tactics they are utilizing, that they gain from the vendor show are being used against community members on a regular basis. And these are not emergency situations, these are peaceful protests, like the ones we’ve seen in Ferguson.”