As citizens continue to criticize America's increasingly-militarized civilian police forces, cops across the country are descending upon Oakland for the controversial Urban Shield war games conference. Mother Jones' Shane Bauer has been roaming the conference's showroom floor, where drones that "drop stuff 'like the Hunger Games'" and "keep calm and return fire" shirts are sold. He also found that Silicon Valley's hottest startup is footing part of the bill.
One of the sponsors of the Urban Shield cop convention is Uber.
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) September 4, 2014
Uber sponsoring a police conference itself wouldn't be particularly unexpected—as the "$18.2 billion" startup has come under fire by regulators across the globe, currying favor from local cops could help build needed support within local governments. And a company executive recently joined the Department of Defense's Defense Business Board. However, as Urban Shield's 2012 retrospective video shows, it's not simply a police conference, but also a training program:
"Urban Shield is funded largely by the Department of Homeland Security," Oakland North reported of last year's event. All told, Urban Shield received $1,537,500 from DHS in 2013 for "materials, equipment, supplies, local transportation, and overtime personnel costs." The annual training conference was also credited as being "essential" in sculpting Boston's response to last year's Marathon bombing—a response that has been widely criticized for its excessiveness.
It isn't clear why Uber is sponsoring a conference that offers "critical training 4 critical times." And they have not responded to our request for comment. But it certainly keeps in line with Uber's tone-deaf marketing shtick of pissing everyone off.