The city council of Durham, North Carolina has officially disavowed police participation in an exchange program with Israeli law enforcement, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.
The “council 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 in the City of Durham,” it said in a statement.
It also quoted a memo from Police Chief Cerelyn C. J. Davis that said: “There has been no effort while I have served as chief of police to initiate or participate in any exchange to Israel, nor do I have any intention to do so.”
The council statement came in response to a petition initiated by a coalition calling itself Demilitarize from Durham2Palestine, which represents Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle, Durham for All, Inside-Outside Alliance and Black Youth Project 100, which accuse Israel of oppressing the Palestinians and demand an end to cooperation with Israel.
They accuse the IDF of teaching “tactics of extrajudicial killing, excessive force and racial profiling” to “help the police terrorize Black and Brown communities here in the US.”
Former Durham police chief Jose Lopez, who traveled to Israel on an exchange visit in the past, charged the petitioners with transmitting disinformation.
“The training that I got had all to do with managing major crisis situations where bombings had occurred, shootings, things of that nature. Things that really a lot of Americans need to concern themselves with now,” Lopez told local station WRAL. “Nothing of the training had anything to do with militarization.”
During a debate on the issue in the city council, Mayor Steve Schewel, who is Jewish, said that “so many people are being given completely false information that our police are training with the Israeli army and would be again …it’s so damaging to police-community relations,” the Herald Sun reported.