How Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer Are Teaming Up With the NYPD to Push Police Militarization

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The Urban Areas Security Initiative appears to be a slush fund for surveillance of activists and police militarization.

By Sarah Lazare
June 8, 2016

Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton are teaming up with the NYPD to request high levels of funding for a federal “counter-terror” program that is directly bankrolling the militarization of police forces nationwide. To secure the funds, they are invoking the threat of terrorism and exploiting the climate of fear and incitement that has come to define the 2016 election cycle.

At issue is the the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), which was created in 2003 as a Department of Homeland Security grant program aimed at assisting “high-threat, high-density Urban Areas in efforts to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.” From 2003 through 2015, at least $8.9 billion from taxpayers have been distributed in the form of UASI grants.

In reality, the program funds initiatives that contribute to blatant law enforcement overreach, including a police militarization and weapons expo known as Urban Shield and the training of SWAT teams across the country. According to the War Resisters League, which contributed research to this report, UASI effectively “strengthens and unifies state repression.”

In his proposal for next year’s federal budget, President Obama requested cuts to DHS’s funding of UASI from $600 million in fiscal year 2016 to $330 million in 2017, arguing that counter-terror funds are sufficiently provided elsewhere. A broad coalition of human rights organizations called this move a “step in the right direction."

The Obama administration’s call for reductions provoked a fierce backlash, with the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, joining with NYPD police commissioner Bill Bratton to demand high levels of funding by casting the city as a “top terror target.”

Buoyed by support from Clinton, Schumer announced in a press statement in late May that he has successfully restored the UASI funds to the proposed Homeland Security budget. Schumer declared, “UASI is the cornerstone of effective preparedness and prevention against terror attacks and in an era of rising terror threats, our support for anti-terror programs should not be falling.”

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