We mourn with Orlando, Florida. We mourn as witnesses of one of the worst massacres on this continent since Wounded Knee in 1890.
In this mourning, we also see that we are galvanized by our sadness to rally together as small communities dotting the earth, as people rooted in our local places, our homes. We are inspired to undo systemic violence, which is why G4S stock prices fell when people learned that the Orlando shooter was an employee of the company. It is a sign that the world sees the direct links between corporate profit and mass violence.
We know that our struggles against supremacy and oppression are interconnected. We work for Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), which is an organization working for justice in Palestine, and we are proud that this Christian organization stands in solidarity and mourning with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
We work in our own local community to say “No” to the corporate complicity of companies like G4S, that profit from the incarceration of black youth, from the deportation of brown families, from the occupation of Palestine, and from ongoing cycles of systemic violence that are a harm to us all.
As people struggling for justice in Palestine, we know that the liberation of Palestine is not the only struggle, or the primary answer to this tragedy. We focus on this work because we believe the actions that produce conditions for the liberation of Palestine are the same as those for healing from and preventing mass violence all over the world.
We are reminded, as the Centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration approaches this Fall, that powerful men writing very simple memos have the capacity to utterly transform the world.
Now is the time for policy change: stop unconditional support for the Security-Industrial Complex.
Policy change is not simply a Congressional matter.
It involves local communities boycotting public contracts with G4S, which is complicit in the abuse of predominantly black minors in Florida.
It involves ending unconditional backing for Israel. The US restocks Israel’s arsenal after bombing Gaza.
It involves insistence by the American public that the US adhere to Leahy Law, which requires the suspension of financial support for units of force suspected of violating a human right.
It involves rejecting the military’s sale of overstock Bearcat armored vehicles to local police forces.
In the name of security, our communities have been increasingly exposed to military grade weapons and mass violence. But local communities from Baltimore to Orlando are standing together against the mass violation of our neighbors near and far.
For the people of Florida, it is so clear: An employee of G4S committed a horrific act of violence. Meanwhile, the company has been profiting from the incarceration of youth in Florida, and has been accused repeatedly– and globally– of human rights violations.
In 2015, over 1,000 black activists wrote a statement listing G4S as the top company to boycott. They made this statement in support of the Palestinian prisoners on hungers strike, who listed G4S as one of six companies we must all rally to boycott if we care about the liberation of people incarcerated en masse, violated en masse, displaced en masse. In addition, people who risk being deported, and who have been deported at the border of US and Mexico are also asking that we boycott G4S, which provides vans for separating families: G4S itself calls these vehicles “the bus no one wants to catch.”
In a democracy, policy and practice are fundamental components of social transformation. Boycotting, voting, and building movements all start at the local level. For example, the Civil Rights Movement was a movement made up of local places. Montgomery. Selma. Little Rock. Harlem. Chicago.
Our duty, in response to the mass violence we have witnessed in Orlando, and to the escalating episodes of violence globally, is to respond as people willing and able to exercise our democratic rights, locally.
Technological fixes to concerns about security, like those provided by G4S, are not the response required of us. We must actively reject the policies and practices that produce corporate profit from the militarization of police; the mass incarceration, deportation, and segregation of racial groups; and the failures of our government to provide real security in the form of job, health, and economic stability.
Municipal boycotts are a community building practice that solidify community values. Instead of calling for “better security,” we are calling for better community, conditions under which we secure what we value most — the liberation of all people from Orlando to Jerusalem– to pursue life fully and freely.
It starts small, and it starts locally. The end to episodic acts of terrorism is rooted in our own communities’ ability to see and make use of the deep and far-reaching connections between our policies and practices.
Step 1: Find out if your city has a Socially Responsible Policy for investments or purchasing. If there is none, instate a Socially Responsible Investment and Procurement Policy.
Step 2: List G4S as one of the companies with which your city will not sign a public contract (according to the Socially Responsible Policy your city now possesses).
Step 3: Work hard, work together, and be one of the dots on the map that says “No” to mass violence. Make your home town a Complicity Free Zone!
These three steps are called a “Municipal Boycott.” To connect with others who are doing the same, visit: [email protected]. Many small community is just getting started, and the organizers at FOSNA are very helpful in advising local people on how to begin a campaign., or email
This article was previously published at Fosna Voice.