About 150 people gathered in front of the Alameda County sheriff's office near Lake Merritt in Oakland at Friday to protest the "Urban
Shield" law enforcement disaster training event, which is being hosted by the sheriff's office at the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.
Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said this is the ninth year his department has hosted Urban Shield. Its purpose is to train law enforcement
officers, firefighters and paramedics on how to respond to natural disasters as well as man-made disasters such as explosions and mass shootings.
Kelly said more than 100 agencies and 5,000 people, including some from foreign countries as far away as South Korea, are participating in the
event which began Friday and concludes Monday.
A highlight is a vendor exhibit at the Alameda County Fairgrounds of various weapons and resources for first responders. There are 35 different training scenarios at critical locations throughout the Bay Area.
Urban Shield was launched several years after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, which Kelly said showed that law enforcement agencies weren't well prepared for such attacks
Mohamed Shekh of Critical Resistance, one of the groups participating in the action in Oakland Friday, said protesters count it as a victory that the vendor exhibit, which had previously been held in Oakland, has been moved
Kelly said, "In Pleasanton, the community is happy to have so many law enforcement officers present and are thankful to have them."
He added that hotel and restaurant owners in Pleasanton are also happy the event is being hosted there.
Shekh said protesters believe that law enforcement agencies used 9/11 as a justification to become more militarized and spy on people. He believes Urban Shield teaches participants to "better control and repress communities around the world."