Community organizing successfully ends militarized-policing convention's presence in Oakland

October 1, 2014
War Resisters League
news photo

On Friday, September 5th, hundreds of of protesters gathered in front of the Marriott in Downtown Oakland, CA, to stand against Urban Shield and declare two major victories: Urban Shield will no longer be held at the Marriott and it will no longer take place anywhere in Oakland. Reclaiming the streets in celebration of our power, we made it loud and clear that we do not welcome militarization and policing of our communities.

Urban Shield is part of a growing national and international coordination of policing empowered by military tools and tactics, and our Coalition insists that we must work to roll this back while advancing community-led initiatives to provide actual safety.

The rally included music by the band Bandung 55 leading the crowd in chants, along with speakers from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Critical Resistance, the Malcolm X Grassroots MovementONYX Organizing CommitteeAnakbayan-East BayWar Resisters League, and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network(IJAN) who highlighted the local, national and international dimensions of the weapons expo and SWAT training. The rally featured powerful testimony from the families of victims of police violence including the mothers of Alan Blueford, James Rivera Jr., Andy Lopez and Mario Romero, as well as Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby who said, “We were on the ground in Ferguson two days after the murder of Michael Brown and Oakland [police] is being prepared just like Ferguson police were prepared.” 

Moved by our growing community pressure, and mounting from an online petition and National Call-In Day, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office announced that Urban Shield would no longer be held at the Marriott. Following the demonstration on Friday, Mayor Jean Quan announced that the City of Oakland will not be renewing their contract with Urban Shield and the controversial arms show will not be hosted anywhere in Oakland next year. This major victory for the Stop Urban Shield Coalition is the fruit of years of grassroots organizing and a key step in the work to end Urban Shield nationally.  

Our work, however, is far from over. While Oakland will not host the trade show and training, we have not received guarantees that the city will completely withdraw participation, i.e. providing city funding, sending city agencies and offering city sites for future Urban Shield exercises. Our focus now shifts directly to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office which continues to coordinate Urban Shield. In the words of Lara Kiswani of AROC, “We say no to Urban Shield anywhere; we say no to militarization everywhere.” 

Friday’s demonstration was the culmination of a week of action and education called for by the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. The week included silk screening by Dignidad Rebelde, art and sign making by Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK), and community workshops and teach-ins on Urban Shield. Additionally, on Sunday, August 31st, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship blocked the door to the Marriott in silent meditation in protest of Urban Shield. On Wednesday, September 3rd, IJAN hosted a picketoutside the San Francisco offices of the Anti-Defamation League for their role in training U.S. police in Israel. On Thursday, September 4th, a poster making event was hosted at Qilombo and co-sponsored by Dignidad Rebelde creating images of resistance in preparation for the next day’s rally. Earlier on Friday before the rally, family members that have lost loved ones to police violence, community religious leaders, as well as Oakland Mayoral candidates Dan Siegel and a representative of Rebecca Kaplan participated in a press conference, expressing their opposition to Urban Shield. Community members also hosted a community picnic that afternoon to highlight the families across California that have lost loved ones to police violence who then marched through Oakland to join in the rally.  

Speaking at Friday’s demonstration, Tara Tabassi of the War Resisters League said, “Urban Shield is a phenomenon spreading across the U.S. and the globe, but so are our movements.” Our Coalition plans on stopping Urban Shield in 2015, and continuing the work to demilitarize our communities and end repressive policing. If you or your organization, would like to be part of this ongoing work, locally in the Bay Area contact and nationally, contact: Visit our page for more info:

Stop Urban Shield Coalition – Coordinating Committee

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

Critical Resistance (CR)

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)

War Resisters League (WRL)


Full List of Endorsers

All of Us or None

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA)

Anakbayan East Bay 

ANSWER Coalition-Act Now to Stop War & End Racism

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)

Arab Youth Organization 

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)

Bay Area Childcare Collective

Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice (LC4PJ)

Berkeley Copwatch

Berkeley Women in Black

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Catalyst Project

Causa Justa :: Just Cause

Civilian Soldier Alliance - San Francisco

Code Pink

Critical Resistance (CR)
Decolonize Oakland

Dignidad Rebelde

Environmentalists Against War 

Freedom Archives 

Gab - SF
Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK)

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)

Iraq Veterans Against the War - National 

Iraq Veterans Against the War - San Francisco

Jewish Voices for Peace - Bay Area

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, San Francisco Chapter 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace 

Media Alliance

Oakland Privacy Working Group
Peace & Justice Center - Sonoma County 

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT)

Restore the Fourth SF
Strike Back

SF 99% Civil Liberties Coalition

United Roots

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 

War Resisters League

Workers World Party

Xicana Moratorium Coalition


Decrease violence in our communities by ending the militarization of the police.

From schools, the border, prisons, to the streets, our communities have become sites of repression and violence at the hands of law enforcement. Ever increasing militarization of our communities has created a culture of surveillance and repression targeting poor communities of color.  Community-led solutions addressing poverty and the violence of policing are the best ways to ensure genuine safety, health, and wellbeing for people most vulnerable to state violence.
  • We demand the City of Oakland defund all activities related to Urban Shield.
  • We demand that all city agencies withdraw their participation in Urban Shield.
Our communities refuse to be testing grounds for tactics of global repression.

Local police departments collaborate with federal agencies to share information and tactics through vehicles such as fusion centers to surveil and control targeted communities. These same agencies are also exchanging policing and repression tactics with international security officers including but not limited to the Apartheid State of Israel. The import and export of technology and tactics includes purchasing weapons, training local police forces, and sharing strategies through activities such as Urban Shield. Our neighborhoods have become laboratories in which to test international and domestic warfare.
  • We demand an end to all City collaborations with the Apartheid State of Israel.
  • We call on the City of Oakland to issue a report on all collaborations between the Oakland Police Department and international law enforcement agencies.
  • We call on the City of Oakland to reject all US wars and occupations here or abroad.
Community Self-determination

Our communities know what is required to address the social, economic and political problems we face. Bay Area residents should have decision-making power over how and where resources are allocated in order to build stronger and sustainable communities.
  • We demand that Bay Area residents have decision-making power in the process to determine priorities for public safety and emergency preparedness.
  • We demand that the City of Oakland invest in community-based programs proven to decrease violence and harm instead of in the increased militarization of its police force and emergency services.
We call on our communities to continue fighting back and resisting state violence and repression.

In the face of growing efforts to police our communities, we must forge alliances to challenge systems of repression and build power in our communities.  Understanding prisons, borders, surveillance and policing as tools of global repression is critical to building and maintaining powerful movements for liberation. Gentrification in our streets is colonialism elsewhere. The War on Terror we are living through today is a new formulation of the War on Drugs, and the violence inflicted on our communities necessitates a unified stance against all forms of repression from the US to Brazil, to the Philippines and Palestine.
  • We ask our allies and partners to adopt these principles and take a stand against the policing and repression of our communities.