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Urban Shield: The gun nuts weaponizing your city

Between October 25 and 28 a major urban security training event and trade expo will invade Alameda County, Calif. Urban Shield, now in its seventh year, is a marketplace of repressive ideas and technologies.

The mood on the expo floor is largely convivial and friendly, with stalls staffed by as many bored salespeople as over-enthusiastic product pushers. Alongside fearsome military technologies are everyday objects like flashlights, mobile phones and bicycles. These signs of ordinariness stand as reminders of how normal the militarization of society has come to seem.

The stated goal of Urban Shield is to improve “regional disaster response capabilities,” but rather than fostering community-focused crisis response, it presents a view of our “high-threat, high-density” cities as always, already violent spaces. This vision of urban life dehumanizes and criminalizes public assembly and nonviolent protest.

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