Forum challenges ‘safety’ of militarized police forces

emeryville_1224Oakland, Calif. — Police departments across the country have been getting more and more militarized through receiving much weaponry directly from the Pentagon and with police recruiting often focusing on war veterans. The Anti Police-Terror Project has launched a campaign to demilitarize the police, starting with the small community of Emeryville, Calif., just north of Oakland, where Yuvette Henderson was killed by Emeryville police officers armed with AR-15 assault rifles.

The APTP held a forum in Emeryville on Dec. 13 to open the discussion on whether these militarized police departments really make the communities they are charged with defending any safer, as they claim, or whether these weapons are actually part of the real threat to Black communities and other people of color.

Speaking to a packed house, which included two Emeryville City Council members, a number of speakers talked about the various perspectives involved. Cat Brooks of the ATPT chaired the meeting. Yuvette Henderson’s brother, Jamison Robinson, talked about the loss of his sister. John Lindsay-Poland of the American Friends Service Committee spoke on the Pentagon’s giving weapons to local police forces. Omar Ali of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center spoke on the Israeli Defense Force’s training of U.S. police departments, including the Oakland PD. Sagnicthe Salazar of the Stop Urban Shield Coalition covered the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and their ties to local policing. Maddy Taylor of Standing Up for Racial Justice described organizing plans to demilitarize the Emeryville police. Alia Sharrief, a Muslimah [Muslim woman] hip-hop artist, performed “Black Heroes.”