On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure Kevin Gozstola and I speak with Shane Bauer, a reporter with Mother Jones, about Urban Shield, an annual police gathering that epitomizes the militarization of US law enforcement. (Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here)
More about the episode from Kevin:
One week ago, Alameda County in California hosted an annual major police gathering supported by corporations and law enforcement and security agencies from the local, state and federal level. Corporations displayed their military-grade equipment available for police departments to purchase, and training exercises or competitions played out in the San Francisco Bay Area. Anyone observing the gathering called “Urban Shield” could see clearly how police militarization has been ramping up in recent years.
The annual police gathering took on additional significance in the aftermath of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, with police deploying military-grade equipment against a community of mostly people of color to control protest against a white police officer who gunned down an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.
Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer had media credentials and used his access to go around to vendors and ask them their thoughts about Americans who believe this country is becoming or has become a police state. He tried to get people to talk to him about Ferguson and asked about why they would need some of the equipment being shown at the expo. Bauer and a Mother Jones filmmaker also observed some of the training exercises, many which involved scenarios that sound like they came from Michael Bay movies because they’re so implausible and overwrought.
This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast Bauer is the show’s guest. He discusses what he saw at “Urban Shield,” what he learned about police, and how he came to understand the culture of policing that convinces officers they need this military-grade equipment even if they are simply a university police department. He also recounts how he had his media credentials revoked by police for supposedly recording in an “unauthorized location” and gives a preview of what is to come in his feature story, which will be in a forthcoming issue of Mother Jones.
During the discussion portion, we talk about going to President Barack Obama’s announcement that America is going to war against ISIS—and how the Obama administration won’t call it a a war on ISIS. Khalek highlights a report she wrote on a religious zealot Israeli general, who ordered a lethal strike against an Israeli soldier so he would not be captured by Hamas. The episode concludes with some talk about District Attorney Sam Sutter. Sutter stunned environmental activists this past week when he had criminal charges against two men who engaged in direct action dropped because he sympathizes with their view that climate change is a serious crisis.