27 Nov, 2014
Landmark victory in North Carolina
Thank Durham County for ending million dollar contract with occupation profiteer G4S
Many of us were in the streets last night: protesting the injustice done in #Ferguson, demanding that #blacklivesmatter, re-committing to fighting against this system of injustice. A system we know will come down brick by brick. We know that Ferguson is everywhere, and that battles against racism, white supremacy, and state violence everywhere must be fought.
One brick fell on Monday night when Durham County became the first U.S. municipality to drop G4S because of its role in perpetuating injustice in Israel/Palestine.
We truly felt the strength of organizing last night as community members gathered to once more tell the County Commissioners to drop the county contract with G4S Secure Solutions. Our jaws dropped when they agreed to end the $1 million contract they’ve held for 11 years and re-open it new bidders.
Nearly a year ago our JVP- North Carolina chapter, leading a coalition of faith groups, social justice organizers, students, and peace activists, decided to respond to the call to boycott G4S by Palestinian political prisoners in 2012. We weren’t sure how the commissioners would react when we wrote our first letter demanding they end the contract. We didn’t know if anti-Palestinian opposition would attack us. But we knew we had to do something and respond to the Palestinian BDS call; to act in our own community.
One member of our coalition, Ahmad Jitan, described personally the role G4S plays in supporting the Occupation — supplying equipment used in the military checkpoints: “When I visit my family in Palestine, when I go through those checkpoints, I do not feel secure. I feel like I am the threat. I feel like I am the threat not because of anything I’ve done, but because of who I am. Because I’m Palestinian, because my name is Ahmad, because I am Muslim. Durham needed to take a principled stance + drop this contract, because G4S is complicit in this system.”
In researching the role G4S plays in our community, reading the fine print of county documents, and talking to African American community leaders and activists working against police profiling, we also began to ask: why do we need private guards at our libraries at all? These security guards have no accountability to our community and they carry guns and have the power to arrest people: further making our community unsafe for many. We discovered cases where G4S guards arrested people for making too much noise while they were waiting in line to apply for food stamps and where G4S guards chased and assaulted a community member.
When the commissioners voted on Monday night, within minutes of the announcement of the terrible news from Ferguson, we felt clear that along with our win we’ve gained even more responsibility to step up, to speak out. As one of our close interfaith allies, Presbyterian Pastor Mark Davidson, said to me after the vote: “This is another hole in the wall. One day the whole system of domination and oppression will collapse under the weight of its own hubris, cruelty, and wrongdoing.”
G4S may put up a fight by re-bidding for the contract, and now that we’ve have booted them from our community we’ll have to fight even harder to keep them out. Please sign our thank you letter now to ensure prison and occupation profiteers stay out of our communities.
From Ferguson to Palestine to Durham, to knocking holes in the wall, to shutting this system down,
Jade Brooks, Jewish Voice for Peace North Carolina
PS: If you’re interested in starting a campaign against G4S in your local community, please visit durhamdropg4s.wordpress.com (or write to firstname.lastname@example.org) — we’d love to share out our resources and experience!)