OAKLAND (KRON) — Activists took to the streets of Oakland to protest the Urban Shield Conference happening this weekend.
They say, among other things, that the event further criminalizes the Muslim community and other communities of color.
Law enforcement says Urban Shield is about making sure they’re prepared for mass emergency situations.
But the activists KRON4 talk to say the training just reinforces military style policing on everyday people.
Dozens of people gathered around Lake Merritt calling for the end of Urban Shield, an event where police and firefighters are trained for natural disasters as well as terror attacks and mass shootings.
But activists say the conference harms Bay Area communities of color.
“It’s xenophobic. It’s racist,” Stop Urban Shield Coalition demonstrator Nathaniel Moore said. “It entirely focuses on a nexus to terrorism while the actual residents of the Bay Area struggle with very different issues. Homelessness. We are worried about earthquakes and other natural disasters.”
Organizers say they instead had their own resource fair to prepare Bay Area residents on how to help themselves during a disaster.
“Earthquake kits that we are actually going to distribute and teach people how to build,” Moore said. “We had a self-defense training. We had a training about how to put out fires in your house. We had trainings about how to interact with your community members without calling the police.”
“We feel like first informing themselves what to do on how to prevent this,” activist Reyna Jauregui said. “The less they can call the cops, the more that we’re empowering us.”
Protesters say Urban Shield widens the divide between police and their communities.
“A lot of times the police who are coming into the communities are not from the community, so it creates that divide,” activist Gema Quetzal said. “So, if they do not know the Oakland culture and community, they might see it in a different way from when I am growing up. The Muslim community is the Oakland community.”
KRON4 spoke to police monitoring the rally on Friday. They tell us it was peaceful.
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