Military contractors and law enforcement from around the world gathered for the annual "Urban Shield" event in Oakland, Calif. this weekend where police departments learned how to militarize their local officers and bought the most lethal weapons available.
Urban Shield was organized by the Department of Homeland Security, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and various weapons manufacturers.
The event is basically a trade show to sell militarized tactical gear and weapons, which is a $190 billion market, according to Salon.com.
Also scheduled at the event were war-game competitions that included protest suppression techniques and SWAT-team-raid simulations, noted MintPressNews.com.
One of the participants is the Middle Eastern country Bahrain, whose police force strongly opposes free speech, so much so that they tear gassed people for protesting Kim Kardashian, when the reality TV star visited the country in 2012, reported CNN.
Urban Shield is hosted by the Bay Area Urban Security Initiative (UASI), which represents law enforcement in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and other Bay Area counties.
Because the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, arms manufacturers are turning to local police forces to buy their military-style weapons.
Some of the arms manufacturers at Urban Shield included: Lockheed Martin, Colt and ATK, which supplies depleted uranium shells (to the Pentagon) that have repeatedly been linked to causing cancer, reports The Huffington Post.
"What Urban Shield represents to us is the epitome of state repression that has been impacting communities of color and immigrant communities for decades," Lara Kiswani, of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, told Common Dreams.
"Different strategies of surveillance against Arabs and Muslims and brown and black people are being used as tactics against our people back home," added Kiswani. "This is the militarization of the police."
"The Bay Area has a long legacy of organizing against police violence. We are making those links and trying to raise awareness in our own communities and across communities. We must be prepared to protect our communities in the face of these repression strategies."
Sources: Salon.com, Common Dreams, CNN, MintPressNews.com, The Huffington Post