New Priorities Campaign

Campaign to end wars & cut the military budget

Why I object to Urban Shield

Statement to the Oakland City Council, July 15, 2014

[Purchased with Homeland Security grants funds by the Alameda County Sheriff
for $323,000 from Xe Services Co. (AKA Blackwater).]

RE: Urban Shield War Games and Arms Bazaar
in Oakland, September 4-8 at the Marriott Convention Center and surrounding communities.

My name is Michael Eisenscher. I am a resident, home owner and taxpayer in the city of Oakland. (Due to time limits on each speaker, a portion of this statement was read by Susan Schacher.)

Not quite one year ago I and a number of other people addressed this council to express our opposition and distress that Urban Shield war games and an accompanying arms bazaar were to be held in Oakland at the Marriott Convention Center. (I believe the convention center was built in part with public financing, which makes siting this militarized arms bazaar a taxpayer-subsidized event.)

I castigated the Council for its collaboration with the military-industrial-security complex in further militarizing our police and hawking weapons in a city that has had more than its share of gun violence and a policy of no gun shows.

At the time of the exhibition at the Marriott, members of the Facing Urban Shield coalition set up a peaceful non-violent protest outside the convention center. We were greeted by veritable battalion of cops, many of whom were in full riot gear. They brought their air force (the police helicopter) and even rolled out their armored personnel carrier in what I considered to be a police counter-demonstration intended to send a message to the residents of Oakland that its streets belong to the police, not the people.

The Department of Homeland Security underwrote Urban Shield as part of its counter-terrorism efforts, just as the Pentagon generously donates its implements of war to local police departments. But who paid for the militarized show of force that greeted us that day?

How much did the taxpayers of Oakland have to pay? How much will we pay this year? You are supposedly the guardians of the public purse. Do you know? Will you tell the public?

If you are truly concerned with our security, create jobs for the unemployed, make employers pay a living wage.Help homeowners facing foreclosure and tenants facing eviction.Make sure our teachers are paid well and have the facilities, skills and equipment they need to provide high quality education.Fight for high quality-low cost higher education so students don’t end up with a lifetime of debt as the price of an education.Force landlords to fix their properties.Build truly affordable housing.Guarantee health care without regard to income of immigration status.Reduce pollution, end our dependence on fossil fuels and prevent global warming.Provide low and no-cost day care and elder care.

That’s real security, not the so-called “national security” provided by a militarized foreign policy designed to guarantee profits for multinational corporations and the military-industrial-security complex.

We don’t want our public services to be militarized. We don’t want our community to be treated as a war zone or battlefield. We don’t want to be viewed by public safety officers as potential terrorists when we exercise our constitutional rights. We don’t want emergency preparedness to be conflated with militarized policing. We don’t want our public officials to get into bed with the military-industrial complex.  We don’t want Urban Shield in our community! I hope that is clear enough for every elected official to understand.

Michael Eisenscher


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