Oakland Privacy and Media Alliance
Victory and Next Steps on Urban Shield
OAKLAND, California (February 28, 2019) — Thank you for taking action to ask the Alameda Board of Supervisors to embrace the recommendations of their ad-hoc committee and transform Urban Shield from a war games expo into a whole-community based disaster preparedness training.
After a long meeting that lasted for almost seven hours; they voted to do exactly that.
Now we need to protect this great people’s victory from the Department of Homeland Security.
The regional disaster preparedness grant that pays for Urban Shield comes from an agency called Bay Area UASI. UASI stands for Urban Areas Strategic Initiative. It doles out counterterrorism and disaster preparedness funding from the federal government to Bay Area cities and towns.
On March 14, Bay Area UASI will consider how Alameda County wants to operate the regional emergency training exercise going forward and if they will renew the grant for this new demilitarized exercise.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Ahern have been telling the Supervisors that the grant will be pulled – with a $5 million dollar loss to the County’s coffers – if they stand their ground about the changes that they want to make.
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Please take a moment now to thank the Supervisors for listening to their constituents and tell them that we have their back no matter what UASI does.
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Local Police Block Civilian Reforms to Limit Military Exercises in Cities
Oakland Privacy and Media Alliance
(March 11, 2019) — I guess we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.
After five years of activism against the war games exercise Urban Shield, Alameda’s supervisors finally took action on February 26th. Delivering on their promise to end Urban Shield as we know it, the supes approved a 60 recommendation package to fundamentally transform the event.
But after a required “consensus” meeting with the Sheriff’s Department on March 6th got no consensus, we found out the package presented by the Sheriff for approval tomorrow will be missing recommendations, including important ones like ending the weapons expo, getting rid of the SWAT scenarios and changing the name.
Last minute sabotage of the decision to transform Urban Shield isn’t okay. The Sheriff is working hand in hand with Homeland Security to tell Alameda County not to make common sense changes to meet community needs.
We need to tell the supervisors to stand their ground against federal bullying, rein in their sheriff, and stick to their February 26th decision.
If you can come to the meeting tomorrow, see directions below. If not, click to write to the Supervisors before the meeting and tell them to continue doing the right thing.
Keep The Changes
Following a final meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, the committee was informed that the Supervisors will be asked to accept a UASI MOU without several approved changes at their March 12th board meeting.
The Committee was also told Bay Area UASI, the Homeland Security entity that doles out disaster preparedness funds, would not further consider any Alameda County requests at its March 14th meeting.
Published guidelines from both Bay Area UASI and FEMA/DHS do not require the use of the name “Urban Shield”, having a vendor expo, or SWAT deployments, which are some of the changes refused by the Sheriff’s Dept.
Send an email to the Board of Supervisors asking them to stand their ground and ask UASI to fund what we want and need in a disaster preparedness exercise.
Alameda County has engaged in a lengthy process to articulate the changes it wishes to make in the regional disaster preparedness exercise and to respond to community upset with the previous iteration of the exercise.
The new vision laid out by the Ad-Hoc Committee is responsive to the needs expressed by many Alameda County residents and to FEMA’s whole community preparedness guidelines.
If implemented well, they will make Alameda County residents safer and more prepared for emergencies.
The four recommendations described as contested in the Ad-Hoc Committee’s report are not prohibited in the FEMA grant guidelines and, more importantly, do not negatively impact the County and the region’s ability to respond to catastrophic events.
1. Build the capacity of vulnerable populations to have an authentic and meaningful voice in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of UASI funded exercises.
2. Eliminate the vendor show from the UASI funded exercise.
3. Redesign law enforcement portions of the exercise, so that they are not SWAT deployment scenarios
4. Change the name of Urban Shield, rebrand UASI funded exercises and create outreach materials that take into account all UASI program audiences, including those with functional and access needs.
It is unfortunate that the name of the event, a for-profit weapons expo, and the disproportionate SWAT emphasis are being presented as the top priorities or that there would be an objection to building the capacity of vulnerable populations to prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies.
I ask you to stay focused on what Alameda County’s real needs are in this era of catastrophic forest fires and rampant homelessness and ask for the exercise that we want and need.
MOU Approval Vote
Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Alameda Administration Building
1221 Oak Street, 5th Floor
Meeting start: 10:45am
Tuesday March 12