Community Groups from Across NY State Hold Press Conference to Oppose Militarization of Police and Syracuse PD Participation in Verona SWAT Expo

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Ali Issa, War Resisters League, ali32123@gmail.com, (718)310-9968 

Ursula Rozum, Syracuse Peace Council ursula@peacecouncil.net, (315) 414-7720

Community Groups from Across NY State Hold Press Conference to Oppose Militarization of Police and Syracuse PD Participation in Verona SWAT Expo

Groups decry extreme anti-Muslim views featured as keynote at New York Tactical Officers Association Conference this week

Where: 511 State St., Syracuse, NY 13202
When: Wednesday, April 27, 2pm
Who: Syracuse Peace Council, Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration, War Resisters League, Palestine Solidarity Collective (full list below)

This coming Wednesday the 27th, the Clarion Project's Ryan Mauro - designated as an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his anti-Islam views - will be addressing attendees of the New York Tactical Officers Association Conference. Attendees will include police officers from from across NY state, including the NYPD and the Syracuse PD, as well as officers from around the country: LA, Colorado, and Ohio. 
 
This has caused alarm among advocacy groups such has the Council on American Islamic Relations which called this past Thursday for police departments to probe Mauro's upcoming training. 
 
It has also led local media in Syracuse, as well as other websites, to question both Mauro and the Larry Beresnoy, Executive Director of the New York Tactical Officers Association which puts on the conference. This has only led to defenses of Clarion by Beresnoy, who will not allow media to attend the conference, and will not disclose the full list of attendees, nor its funding sources.
 
Mauro promotes the surveillance and profiling of Muslim Americans, often propagates the myth that there are Muslim 'no-go' zones across the US., attempts to link CAIR and other groups to terrorist activity, and has even argued that Islamists have infiltrated the Republican Party. The organization for which he works, The Clarion Project, was at the center of controversy for supplying the NYPD with anti-Islam films such as The Third Jihad, that then police chief Ray Kelly apologized for showing to his department.
 
NYTOAC also features several major weapons manufactures at their expo including Northrup Grumman - the 5th largest arms dealer in the world, amidst ongoing concern regarding the militarization of the police, including the NYPD.
 
Finally, at at least one of NYTOAC's workshops will promote the idea that SWAT Teams are the ideal entity to engage people having mental health crises, though a third or more of people killed by the police have such a disability. According to the ACLU there are more than 100 SWAT raids a day in the US, the great majority of which impact Black and Latino neighborhoods. (See this video of SWAT testimony.)
 
The many US conferences like NYTOAC, such as the controversial Urban Shield in the Bay Area (see recent Guardian coverage), are often funded directly by the Department of Homeland security through the Urban Areas Security Initiative. 
 
cross-community effort, including Black Lives Matter Upstate, the Syracuse Peace Council and the Arab American Association of New York, to oppose this conference which produces such harmful effects in so many communities, promotes militarized mentalities among the police, and dovetails disturbingly with the rising culture of fear in the US and worldwide. WRL's petition calling for its cancellation has reached nearly 2,000 singers.  
 
Endorsing organizations:
 
AF3IRM NYC * Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) * Black Lives Matter Upstate NY * Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI) * CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities * Civilian Soldier Alliance * Equality for Flatbush * The Icarus Project * Iraq Veterans Against the War * Jewish Voice for Peace - National * Jewish Voice for Peace - Westchester * Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice * Muslim American Women's Policy Forum * New Yorkers Against Bratton * Organization for a Free Society (OFS) * Palestine Solidarity Collective * Raha - Iranian Feminist Collective * Stop LAPD Spying * Syracuse Peace Council * Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP)

The United States’ oldest secular pacifist organization, the War Resisters League has been resisting war at home and war abroad since 1923. Our work for nonviolent revolution has spanned decades and has been shaped by the new visions and strategies of each generation’s peacemakers.

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