Oakland, CA – A disparate coalition of Bay Area activists will converge at Oscar Grant Plaza this Tuesday, Feb. 18, from roughly 6pm onward, to speak out against Oakland City Council's plan to vote to approve Schneider Electric as the contractor for Phase II of construction of the proposed Oakland Police Department surveillance hub, the Domain Awareness Center (DAC). If Schnedier Electric is approved, this would be the final vote before construction would continue on the DAC. Activists are braced for this possibility and are ready to launch a lawsuit against City Council to halt construction, based on Fourth Amendment violations and the expenditure of City funds to SAIC while it had the contract, in violation of Oakland's Nuclear-Free Zone Ordinance. The DAC vote is item number 13 on City Council's agenda and activists will stay until they stay as long as it takes to make their voices heard.
The DAC is a proposed, $10.9M Department of Homeland Security-funded, 24/7 surveillance center, which has generated a firestorm of press, from such media outlets as The Guardian, The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, Russia Today, Boing Boing, AlterNet, Truthout, Common Dreams, TechDirt, East Bay Express, and countless others. Locally, it has spawned a fierce groundswell of resistance, uniting a disparate coalition of impassioned residents who are unwaveringly saying “no” to government surveillance and the militarization of our community. A letter in support of not awarding Schneider Electric (*document attached*) has been circulated and signed by the following community groups/members: Oakland Privacy Working Group, Prison Activist Resource Center, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Cat Brooks (ONYX) OrganizingCenter, Wilson Riles (President, Oakland Community Action Network/Former Oakland Council member),Council on American-Islamic Relations (San Francisco Bay Area), Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Code Pink (Bay Area), March 15 Organizing Committee, Alameda County Against Drones, Oakland International Socialist Organization, Mike Katz-Lacabe (San Leandro USD School Board Trustee), Margarita Lacabe (Alameda Country Democratic Central Committe), Igor Tregub (California Democratic Party AD15/VP, California Young Democrats), Rick Trullinger (Alternate Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee), Janet Arnold (Member, Country Council Green Party of Alameda County), Michael Rubin (Member, Oakland Greens), Elaine Brown (Former Chair, Black Panther Party), and David Keenan (Bay Area Public School Organizer), among many others.
The project, which was initially sold to City Council under the auspices of protecting the Port of Oakland, has grown exponentially in scope since its inception and would now enable law enforcement to engage in widespread warrantless surveillance of Oakland residents, using large numbers of surveillance cameras, license plate readers, thermal imaging devices, gun-shot detection sensors, toll payment tracking for those using electronic passes, and social media monitoring, along with other tools. Though the project is slated to receive federal money, by way of grants from the Department of Homeland Security, this funding will expire after two years, leaving tax-paying residents to foot the continued expenses of running a state of the art, round-the-clock surveillance center.
The coalition seek the unequivocal termination of the project, which they feel violates the legal rights andprivacy of ordinary, law-abiding citizens; has little to no accountable oversight and no privacy framework in place to dictate policies regarding retention and dissemination of the collected data. It will create even deeper distrust between citizens and law enforcement in a city which has for decades been the epicenter of police violence against citizens - at a time when the Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford murders and the near-lethal brutality seen in the Occupy Oakland demonstrations are still fresh on people's minds. It has tremendous potential for data leaks, whether from outside hackers or from inside operatives; and would be an incredibly poor use of public funds, when the city budget is already strapped for cash. Demonstrators are resolute that the DAC will not be built in Oakland. They are asking residents to come out to send a clear message to CityCouncil that if this project isn't terminated, City Council will be in for a fight!
For additional information on the DAC, the mounting efforts to stop it, and a complete list of the press coverage it's garnered, the best resource is Oakland Wiki.
Re: February 18, 2014 vote to award Domain Awareness Center Phase 2 Contract
Dear Honorable Members of the Oakland City Council:
We urge the Oakland City Council to vote against the award of the Domain Awareness Center (“DAC”) Phase 2 contract to Schneider Electric at the February 18, 2014 council meeting.
The project’s proposed full time mass surveillance throughout Oakland has created grave concerns about infringement upon our civil liberties, especially in light of the Snowden revelations.
Proceeding with the DAC and its estimated $1.6 million annual operating cost makes no sense. The City has spent the last few years making severe budget cuts, and it would be forced to make even deeper cuts to comply with the balanced budget provision.
Please vote “No” on February 18, 2014.
Oakland Privacy Working Group
Prison Activist Resource Center
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Cat Brooks, ONYX Organizing Committee
Wilson Riles, President Oakland Community Action Network, former Oakland Council Member
Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area
Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Code Pink Bay Area
Elaine Brown, former Chair Black Panther Party
March 15 Organizing Committee
Mary Madden, Organizer, Alameda County Against Drones
Oakland International Socialist Organization
Mike Katz-Lacabe, San Leandro USD School Board Trustee
Margarita Lacabe, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee
Igor Tregub, California Democratic Party AD15 Delegate; California Young Democrats VP
Rick Trullinger, Alternate Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.
Janet Arnold, Member County Council Green Party of Alameda County
Michael Rubin, Member Oakland Greens
David Keenan, Bay Area Public School Organizer
Elliott Halpern, ACLU Berkeley/North East Bay Chapter Board Member
Tarak Kauff, Board of Directors, Veterans for Peace