Urban Shield Exercise Tramples Alameda Point Nature Reserve

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Urban Shield, a SWAT exercise and weapons convention held annually with Department of Homeland Security funding and coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, was held for the last time in its current form from September 6-10, 2018. The event has come under intense criticism for militarizing local police forces, cozy ties with weapons vendors and glorifying violent public safety response.

One of the 2018 SWAT team drills, which focused on dignitary protection and modeled a bomb going off by a motorcade has drawn fire from local Alameda residents, because it took place on Alameda Point Shoreline in land that was permanently ruled off-limits for development after the closure of the Naval facility. The section of Alameda Point where the exercise was held repeatedly over two days is owned by the Veterans Department and is zoned as a permanent wild life reserve for marine birds including terns who nest there. A memorandum of understanding between the US Navy and the VA and the City of Alameda specifically states that the nature reserve is not to be used for preparedness exercises.

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Surveillance Transparency At BART

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The Bay Area’s sixth surveillance transparency ordinance was voted in unanimously by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors this morning in Oakland. The process was not without controversy. It began in 2016, after reports that BART had installed license plate readers at MacArthur BART with no notice to the public. And it ended with a revelation that for a year after the BART Board had ordered the plate readers removed, and months after BART passed a sanctuary transit policy, they had remained in place, transmitting 57,000 license plate scans to the Homeland Security fusion center NCRIC, whose ALPR database has been accessed by ICE.

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BART License Plate Scans Sent To DHS While Board Passed Sanctuary Transit Policy

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At the same time the BART Board of Directors was creating a Sanctuary Transit policy, the mass transit system was sending 57,000 license plate scans from devices installed at the MacArthur BART station to the Department of Homeland Security’s Norcal fusion center and their ALPR database which ICE can access.

The Board had previously instructed BART staff not to proceed with license plate reader technology at the MacArthur station, after word leaked out about an undisclosed pilot program. But despite the board’s instructions, the license plate readers remained in operation and uploading tens of thousands of scans to DHS in what BART described as a mistake to the East Bay Times.

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City of Palo Alto Passes Surveillance Transparency Ordinance #5

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Welcome to the Bay Area’s fifth local surveillance transparency ordinance in the City of Palo Alto, which approved their ordinance on an 8-1 City Council vote on the evening of September 20.

The heart of Silicon Valley began this movement in June of 2016 by passing the nation’s first municipal surveillance transparency ordinance and now Palo Alto has followed in Santa Clara County’s footsteps.

Congratulations and let the transparency begin!

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