This week, in the midst of nationwide protests against police violence and corruption, the annual “Urban Shield” martial law training drill is set to kick off in Oakland. The operation will extend from September 4th through September 8th and will be accompanied by a trade show that will exhibit a wide variety of high-tech law enforcement toys.
This is the 8th year that Urban Shield has taken place, and the event has now become a showcase for law enforcement agencies from around the world.
“Since its inception in 2007, Urban Shield has continued to grow as a comprehensive full-scale regional preparedness exercise. Beginning September 4, 2014, an even larger Urban Shield exercise will once again test the overall Bay Area UASI Region‘s response capabilities related to multi-discipline planning, policies, procedures, organization, equipment and training. Urban Shield will test regional integrated systems for prevention, protection, response and recovery in our high-threat, high-density urban area. The 48-hour exercise will evaluate our existing level of preparedness and capabilities, identifying not only what we do well, but areas that may be in need of improvement. An After-Action Report will be generated to assist in prioritizing upcoming expenditures in order for the region to become more prepared for any type of critical event.”
The website shows a number of SWAT team police officers aiming high powered weapons and wearing gas masks.
Urban Shield programs officer James Baker says that techniques which are trained and developed at Urban Shield are later used at events like the Boston and Ferguson lock-downs.
“We had been running the Urban Shield program for two years prior to the Boston bombing. So when the bombing did occur, Boston was applauded with how efficiently and quickly they were able to get all of the victims to local hospitals, and that — other than the few killed upon impact — nobody else died as a result of the bombing,” he said.
This year, a number of activist groups are planning to protest Urban Shield in Oakland.
“Oakland is a city with a very long history of resisting police violence. People are offended when the city would bring these kinds of maneuvers and trade show to this city in particular,” Rachel Herzing, executive director of Critical Resistance, one of the organizers of the protest told Aljazeera.
In May, a similar Urban Shield drill took place in Boston, Massachusetts and officers were recorded on the street with military gear and high powered weapons. Two residents were walking on a public sidewalk and were actually threatened with arrest during the Boston drill. Footage of their encounter can be seen below:
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.