Sat Sep 9, 2017 05:35PM
Stop Urban Shield protesters across the Alameda County government building in Oakland, California, on Friday, September, 8, 2017.
Stop Urban Shield protesters across the Alameda County government building in Oakland, California, on Friday, September, 8, 2017.

Hundreds of US activists have taken to the streets in Oakland, California, to protest a military training event for police known as Urban Shield.

The Stop Urban Shield Coalition held a rally Friday in front of the Alameda County government building to protest the controversial event that's being hosted by the county sheriff's office this weekend.

Urban Shield was launched in 2007 in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, which some police officials said showed that law enforcement agencies weren't well prepared for such attacks.

The annual three-day weapons exposition also holds multi-disciplinary exercises for police.

However, opponents of the event say it increases the militarization of law enforcement and teaches them to act more like soldiers in their communities.

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Law enforcement officials say their goal is to test training and coordination among local first-responders in times of crisis such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Late last month, the administration of US President Donald Trump lifted a ban on the transfer of some surplus military equipment to police departments, adding fuel to the ongoing debate of police violence.

The controversial program gives local police easier access to military gear such as grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and armored vehicles, despite widespread concerns over the militarization of the force.

The program was blocked in May 2015 by then President Barack Obama amid an outcry after police responded with military gear to rioting in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson and other cities.

US police departments have been under heightened scrutiny in recent years for the disproportionate number of police killings of African Americans.

At least 1,093 people were killed by police in the US last year, according to the Guardian newspaper's The Counted database.