Thanks Susan (and Janet), this is great, thanks for attending the meeting and reporting back! Answers one question I had, which is the name this stuff is happening under nationally ("Urban Area Security Initiatives", apparently).
Nice to see the oblique acknowledgment by a deputy DHS secretary that their grant process is characterized by smoke and mirrors.
Another question I have is, how much was each county sheriff's office involved with Urban Shield, financially and otherwise? Maybe there's one particular sheriff or local department which is more responsible than others, which we could target with some kind of campaign? I'm curious to know the extent to which SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's office was involved, if any -- he ought be good on this issue, and if he's not, he should be pressured to get his act together -- his background is as a "progressive", and he knows first hand what it's like to be on the receiving end of police persecution.
On the one-fingered versus the five-fingered wave -- not everybody thinks firefighters are all that either (their jobs are less risky than commonly believed, and they tend to be *very* well compensated compared to riskier professions like driving a cab or working as a roofer), but at least they are not known for violating people's rights, using inappropriate force against them, and arresting them for things that shouldn't be crimes.
Regarding jargon, it is a standard obfuscatory tactic that insiders in various occupations use to shield themselves from competition and scrutiny. Government and especially the military are famous for it. If the public can't understand what you're talking about, that makes it easier to disguise how little work you're actually doing for what you're being paid, the unpopular or morally reprehensible nature of what it is that you are doing, etc.
The idea of training sessions on police tactics sounds great! Perhaps with live reenactments of the police crimes depicted in the videos, demonstrating various ways in each case that officers could have used to resolve the situations without using excessive force?
I'm also looking forward to this October report-back:
Susan is currently planning a report back event with others in Oakland during the first week of October, and a report on UASI and how to do citizen-watch and comment, and work on demilitarizing Urban Shield for next year, will be part of that. We hope to involve others in attending these meetings and learning the planning, funding and budget processes involved not only in Urban Shield but in the overall coordination of local, regional, state agencies with DHS and FEMA.
I agree we need to get more people involved in attending meetings like this and keeping tabs on what government officials are up to. Even when notice is posted of happenings, it's easy for stuff to get lost in the shuffle. Maybe we need a Bay Area Civil Liberties calendar to which everyone can post events?
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
P.S. - Another Urban Shield article, in the SF Weekly (apologies if this has already been posted, but I don't recall seeing it) -- http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/urban-shield-police-ferguson/Content?oid=3141524 . I posted a reader comment after the article which I encourage folks to "like" (and add your own).