Activists from the campaign hold a banner which reads: 'From Durham to Palestine: Racist Occupation is A Crime.' (Photo via Twitter)
Activists from the campaign hold a banner which reads: 'From Durham to Palestine: Racist Occupation is A Crime.' (Photo via Twitter)

Durham Becomes First US City to Ban Police Exchanges with Israel

PNN/ Durham, N.C., USA/ Shirin Zarqa-

This week, the Palestinian Boycott Divest and Sanction (PBDS) movement got a big win! Durham, North Carolina became the first U.S. city to ban its police force from “military-style training” with police departments abroad, including the Israeli  occupation police force.

The city council voted unanimously 6-0, releasing a statement declaring that the City of Durham, “opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here.”

The city adopted the resolution after groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, BDS, and several other organizations developed a coalition known as the “Demilitarize! Durham 2 Palestine Coalition.

The group’s efforts were geared towards preventing Durham’s law enforcement from training with Israel’s military or police.

The campaign’s success was the first of its kind aimed at deterring American state, county and city police departments from engaging in training with the IOF.

The goal is to end a practice that began in 2002, when the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs began paying for police personnel to train in Israel.

Several of the cities that have trained with the IOF including Baltimore, the same police department where 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody. Several of the state’s responsible for sending local officers to train with the IOF have been accused of police brutality, including Florida, California, Arizona, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.

Campaigns are also ongoing in several states to continue what activists refer to as the “militarization” of the US police force. The American police force is intended to police a civilian population based on a “community policing” policy.

In contrast, the IOF has been accused of intentionally using excessive force against unarmed civilians and has recently been warned by B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, that their use of force during the Great March protests that began on March 30th may be charged with international human rights violations as a result of their actions.

B’Tselem has also urged the IOF to refrain from the use of force against those protesting.

Sources : PNN reporters

Palestine Chronicle Staff