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Buddhist Blockade Against Police Militarization [VIDEO]

Urban Shield action

In late August, Buddhist Peace Fellowship and other faith-based allies staged a meditation blockade to protest the militarization and brutality of police, in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri and the over-the-top force used by police to try to squelch the ensuing protests.

We used the peacefulness of our sitting meditation posture to interrupt the flow of foot traffic at the downtown Oakland Marriott Hotel, which was hosting Urban Shield, a weapons expo and militarized training site for police. Buddhist monks from the Nipponzan Myohoji temple in Bainbridge Island, Washington offered meditative drumming and chants in what was otherwise a markedly silent protest.

The Marriott was not happy with our peaceful protest, and immediately called the cops to remove us. Still, we continued sitting.

Watch the Video: Buddhist Blockade Against Police Militarization

After a week of protests and pressure from a coalition of groups including Critical Resistance, Arab Resource & Organizing Center, and the War Resister’s League, Urban Shield will not be held in Oakland next year.

In the four months since Brown’s death, the protests have only intensified as Brown’s killer Darren Wilson will not face a trial, and other Black boys and men like Tamir Rice and Eric Garner have also been killed by police with no recourse of a trial. From Minneapolis to Atlanta, from New York to Oakland, people continue to take to the streets to insist that Black Lives Matter. In Ferguson, young Black leaders of this movement have circulated a 9-point set of demands from political accountability for the death of Michael Brown to the end of racial profiling.

This movement for racial justice continues, and we are grateful for the ways that BPFers across the US are stepping up to be part of it. You can help Buddhists continue to be on the front lines of movements for racial and economic justice, halting climate change, demilitarization, and so many other important issues in our times. Please give generously today to support Buddhist action:

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Top picture by Kelly Lockwood. Videography by Regan Brashear, editing by Virginia Brisley.

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