SURJ Holiday Placemat for Racial Justice

As the holidays draw near, you may be anticipating those difficult conversations around the dining room table. Check out this tool to help you with some of the topics that may come up.

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I Went Behind The Scenes At “Urban Shield.” It Was More Racist Than I Could Have Imagined.


Berkeley Police Department’s Special Response Unit re-enacts the Garland, TX shooting at Urban Shield 2016. Credit: Mary Noble.

In 2016 I bluffed my way into Urban Shield, the massive police weapons fair in Pleasanton, California, that is also one of the world’s largest police training exercises. What happens here shapes policing all over the US. What I saw shocked me. The training exercises were far more racist than I could ever have imagined.

Urban Shield is really two different events: A weapons trade show in Pleasanton, and a 48-hour SWAT training exercise at locations all over the Bay. When I arrived at the weapons expo in Pleasanton, security was tight. Only one gate was open to cars. Police checked credentials through car windows. I hadn’t pre-arranged a press pass. But I showed my press pass to a cop and asked whether they’d accept me, a blogger for the Huffington Post. To my surprise, the answer was yes.

The exhibition hall was surrounded by hundreds of cops clustered in small groups, each group wearing different matching camo and tactical gear. I learned later that these teams would compete in Urban Shield’s 48-hour training exercise, which involved role-playing 36 mass casualty attacks on zero hours of sleep.

Then I went into the exhibition hall, which was full of tables loaded with weapons: AR-15s, body armor, rifle scopes.

One of the first things I saw was a medical mannequin of a bomb victim with its leg ripped off, blood spurting, for police to practice tourniquets on (pictured). I was told that the dummy, body armor, and guns would be used in the 48-hour training, so that police could try them before buying for their departments.

 

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I Was There in Berkeley Too — What the Media Got Wrong

Many at the August 27 mobilization have been surprised by the media’s portrayal of events. Articles like  What the Media Got Wrong About Last Weekend’s Protests in Berkeley gives a more nuanced perspective. As one of the organizers, this is mine.

I Was There in Berkeley Too — What the Media Got Wrong

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Victory Against White Supremacy in the Bay!

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Victory Against White Supremacy in the Bay!
Statement from the organizers - a coalition of Black and immigrant interfaith, anti-racist, anti-fascist, LBGTQ and civil rights groups.

Today in Berkeley we won a victory against white supremacy. We turned out united communities and congregations to directly confront hate speech and hate action, and to keep our streets free of fascists. This is part of a growing national trend of people saying no to hate. We were clear, visible and uncompromising in our demand that they not bring this hate to our neighborhoods, places of worship, public parks, universities and streets. Their Berkeley rally, like their SF rally, was canceled. Fascists were not able to come into a public space and engage in the kind of violence they have too many times before. People worked across lines to keep each other safe. The police, armed with special ordinances from SF and Berkeley City Hall, attempted to stop us from expressing our commitment to defend ourselves and each other against racist, Islamophobic, anti-semitic, sexist, homophobic and transphobic violence. They even arrested anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters on charges as illegitimate as wearing a mask to protect themselves from being targeted by violent supremacists and fascists. Despite this, people stayed united, firm and took care of each other.

Please contribute to the bail fund of the Anti-Repression Committee of the National Lawyers Guild.

 

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#NoHateNoWall Campaign Claims Its First Victory

IMG_0630.JPGHere in the Bay Area, a region we like to think is imbued with liberal and progressive values, there are reportedly some two dozen companies that are bidding on Trump’s border wall. This morning at 7:00 am, local activists kicked off a campaign to call out those companies who hope to tap into the billions of dollars earmarked for the Department of Homeland Security’s construction of the wall.

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#SayHerName: Charleena Lyles. Nabra Hassanen. Josie Berrios.

Left to right: Charleena Lyles, Nabra Hassanen & Josie Berrios. 

We as SURJ Bay Area are deeply saddened, horrified, and outraged by the recent murders of three women of color across the U.S. We honor and uplift their names: 

Charleena Lyles.

Nabra Hassanen.

Josie Berrios.

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Inspiration for Courage and Change - Part II

by Micki Luckey

Book cover for A Wall Between by Anne BradenIn The Wall Between we are extremely fortunate to have Anne Braden’s own account of how she left behind a traditional upbringing in Alabama and Mississippi to actively work against segregation in Louisville, Kentucky. She details her insight into the steps of her changes in consciousness, followed by an act with consequences she hadn’t foreseen. As Julian Bond wrote in his foreword to a second printing of the book (1999), “Anne and [her husband] Carl Braden belong to a small band of modern abolitionists willing to brave danger in pursuit of the unfinished American racial revolution.” (p.xiii) What brought Anne to that point?

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Inspiration for Courage and Change - Part I

By Micki Luckey

heffners.jpgIn current times of continued police violence against Blacks and renewed attacks on immigrants and Muslims as well as LGBTQ and Jewish people, what is the role of white people who are concerned about racial justice? Today I take inspiration for courage and change from two books about how individual white people confronted segregation and racism in the Deep South: So the Heffners Left McComb by Hodding Carter, 1965, reprinted 1999, and The Wall Between by Anne Braden, 1958, reprinted 1999. Part I will discuss the first and Part II will discuss the second.

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SURJ Bay Area Human Billboards

The Early History of SURJ Bay Area Human Billboards

Inspired by a neighborhood group in the Dimond District of Oakland, SURJ Bay Area began organizing Human Billboard events in November of 2016. Despite the pouring rain, the first gathering in November 2016 — adjacent to the Lakeshore Farmer’s Market —  attracted dozens of participants. 

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Shame on the City of Oakland: An Open Letter from SURJ Bay Area

We are filled with sorrow, anger and frustration over the deadly West Oakland San Pablo Fire that killed, displaced, and injured, approximately 100 of our neighbors on March 27. We remember Edwarn Anderson, Cassandra Robertson-Johnson, Ashantikee Wilson, and one unidentified soul who lost their lives in the fire.

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