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Indybay Feature
Wed Jun 28 2017 (Updated 06/30/17)
Berkeley Votes to Continue Participation in Urban Shield Despite Protest
Police Beat & Arrest Community Members Protesting at Berkeley City Council Meeting
On June 20, over 500 advocates and Berkeley residents, including former mayor of Berkeley Gus Newport, packed the Berkeley City Council chamber to show support for withdrawing the city from the controversial and highly militarized Urban Shield SWAT training and weapons expo. After hearing from hundreds of community members opposed to Urban Shield and the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, the mayor attempted to rush and confuse the vote. In this moment, community members took nonviolent action to uphold the democratic process, displaying a banner with the "Stop Urban Shield" message that was overwhelmingly supported. Without proper warning, police responded with aggressive force and arrested two community members and subsequently caused head injuries to two others.

Two days later, the City of Berkeley decided to uphold the largely contested vote by the Mayor and City Council on the city's participation in the controversial Urban Shield program. The vote allowing Berkeley Fire and Police Departments to participate in Urban Shield activities is being questioned as a possible violation of the Brown Act based on a number of violations, with the civil rights law firm Siegel & Yee having submitted a formal "Cure and Correct" letter.

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