Alco Supervisor Nate Miley to Muslim activist: ‘Do you think terrorism exists?’

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley

ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said implicit bias definitely exists when it comes to law enforcement suspecting some Muslims of terrorist activities. Moments later, the excitable District Four supervisor asked a surveillance opponent, who is Muslim, “Do you think terrorism exists?”

Miley directed the question to Mohamad Shehk, a communication director for Critical Resistance, a group dedicated to eliminating the prison industrial complex. Shehk was a public speaker who addressed the Alameda County Board of Supervisors last week on the issue of federal funding for anti-terrorism in the county, including Urban Shield, the regional terrorist preparedness gathering held annually in Pleasanton.

“I think the way in which we view terrorism is greatly over-exaggerated,” said Shehk.

“You didn’t answer the question, but you do think that it exists?” said Miley. “You’re just saying it’s over-exaggerated. Thank you. All I’m saying is people need to be prepared for it. Thank you. You answered the question.”

But, Shehk continued. “If you can answer me the last time we had a terrorist attack in Alameda County versus the last time we’ve had police killings?”

“Point!” Miley interrupted. “That’s the point.”

In an interview, Shehk said the question was odd and offensive. “He completely dismissed the way in which the war on terror itself has been the greatest terrorism of the past decade, claiming the lives of over a million Muslims across the globe,” said Shehk. “Not to mention the profiling, surveillance, and policing practices that have been used not only against Muslims here in the U.S., but against Black and Brown people more generally, particularly post-9/11.

“The constructed threats to public safety of the Muslim ‘terrorist,’ just as with the Latino ‘illegal immigrant’ and the Black ‘criminal,’ is how programs like Urban Shield justify themselves, providing the state more tools and tactics to target and control our communities.”

Before the exchange, Miley offered strong support for law enforcement and specifically Urban Shield. “I do think Urban Shield is something that is appropriate for Alameda County and for the the Sheriff’s Department,” he said. “Reasonable people are going to disagree on that and I don’t mind being on the side that says public safety is extremely important. It’s extremely important and those folks who don’t share that, I respect them, but I have a different opinion.”