Susala Kay 
Member since Sep 26, 2017


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Re: “Urban Shield Task Force Appointee and Gun Dealer Calls Police Critics 'Terrorists'

It's important that this article has brought Mr. Grant's inappropriate behavior to light. His behavior reflects one of many reasons that the task force evaluating Urban Shield is not in the position to be able to evaluate Urban Shield effectively. It is made up mostly of people who have a financial investment in Urban Shield going forward. As the members of the task force agreed at the meeting being discussed, this task force is not capable of assessing the impact Urban Shield has on communities. We need data about the rising militarization after Urban Shield and we need to hear from impacted communities including communities of color and Muslims about their experiences of interactions with the police. We especially need data about how many incidents occur involving violence from police towards community members.

I, too, attended the meeting being described in the article as a part of the interfaith for black lives committee. During the meeting, I was shocked by a comment from a woman on the task force who works with Bart calling us "militant." This comment was in response to us calmly quietly sitting in the room with small signs and one by one to lightly getting up and giving testimony including an original 9 verse song. I was somewhat heartened that task force members seem to listen to each other during the meeting and even changed their votes after hearing testimonies and the song from those of us challenging Urban Shield. The racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, and hateful messages mr. Grant put forth are shocking and completely out of proportion to the discourse that happened in the room that day. However they do reflect the ongoing discourse by those involved in Urban Shield outside of the task force. This is an example and one reason of many that I feel that this task force is not enough to change the culture of Urban Shield. Urban Shield must be stopped!!

I was deeply disturbed to hear there was talk at this year's Urban Shield Expo that "black rifles matter." At a time when people of color are continually losing their lives to armed police officers and have come up with a black lives matter slogan to remind society of their humanity, it is disgraceful for police, who are supposed to be protecting people and pillars of our community, to engage in the kind of rhetoric and behavior that they are! They need to be reprimanded and educated!

As American citizens, the freedom of speech is a guaranteed right that insures our democracy. Those involved with stop Urban Shield for years have exercised this right and should be applauded for the creative heartfelt tactics used that do not involve violence of any kind. If only police and other emergency responders would use heartfelt creative responses, our community would be a very different place and we would not need to be having this dialogue. Urban Shield is a gun expo that promotes militarization, racism, and xenophobia. It must be discontinued!

Posted by Susala Kay on 09/26/2017 at 10:33 AM

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