A lot of the coverage of the assassin Omar Mateen in the Sunday June 12th Orlando shooting is missing a key element that explained his willingness to murder over thirty people in one night: his working for the G4S, the private security company that maintains U.S. government supported military occupations across the world. G4S is an English and Dutch owned company whose stock fell Monday after the shooting and after stockholders sold their shares knowing that G4S employed Mateen. Omar Mateen essentially did on that night what the Israeli army does to Palestinians on a daily basis.
Palestinians can be arrested and imprisoned for practically any form of public activity regardless of whether they present a legitimate security threat to the State of Israel. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits any relocation of prisoners from occupied territory to the occupying country. Omar Mateen as a twenty first century tool of U.S. imperialism did what Andrew Jackson did in his murder of indigenous people in the Spanish Florida of the early nineteenth century where the Trail of Tears began. According to a report called “The Case of G4S” by the Coalition of Women For Peace, G4S “has provided equipment and maintenance services to Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank.” Omar Mateen was employed and supported by a company that protected armed Israeli soldiers and help them to essentially murder people of color who in some form protested the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip of Palestine.
As a Black gay man, it is clear to me that LGBTQI citizens of color in the United States should see the culture of violence that killed 49 people in Orlando on Sunday a direct result of the increasing police state that the U.S. is becoming. This is a police state that is not interested in helping us as Black or Latinx LGBTQI individuals love ourselves in a safe space like Pulse nightclub. Mateen treated these victims the way that U.S. military occupations have treated the world, subject to and deserving of random violence.
The Orlando shooting should challenge in our minds what mainstream U.S. culture wants to call “security.”
In the name of “security” white settler colonialism is allowed to thrive not only in Israel, but in every major city across the United States where gentrification thrives. One of the Orlando survivors Patience Carter who flew to Orlando from Philadelphia said that Mateen told her and those who hid from him in the bathroom that “I don’t have a problem with Black people,” but that I want the U.S. “to stop bombing my country.” Homophobia is not the real culprit in this shooting, nor is Islamophobia. White settler colonialism is the real culprit in this Orlando shooting. According to this survivor’s testimony, the message of Mateen’s murder was not against Black people, but against the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine that his seven year employment by G4S represents. She said Mateen wanted to the U.S. “to stop bombing my country.”
The bombing by the U.S. military ultimately protects white settler colonialism in Afghanistan that is rooted in the government’s 1970s strategic use of Afghan civilians to attack the U.S.S.R. Although the U.S.S.R. is no more, the U.S. military occupation remains, protects white settler colonialism and will encourage more shootings like Mateen’s. According to the U.S. Campaign to end the Israeli Occupation’s press release that quoted the Financial Times, “the company is extracting itself from reputationally damaging work, including its entire Israeli business.” The withdrawal of the G4S from Israel is a victory for the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement.
This movement not only got G4S to withdraw from Israel, it got Columbia University to divest from private prisons. Its work caused the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation to sell its $170 million stock in G4S. Its work caused also the United Methodist Church to completely divest from G4S. Its work caused the Durham, North Carolina, county council to end a $1 million private “security” contract with G4S. Though it withdrew from Israel, G4S still provides “security” to juvenile detention centers within 60 miles from Orlando in Pasco County, Florida, as noted by Angela Davis in her January 9th talk at the Black Radical Conference at Temple University. This means if there is a youth rebellion in these centers for any reason, G4S would obviously side with the kind of response of a mass shooting that Mateen executed.
As we approach the forty-fifth anniversary of the Attica prison rebellion this September, we should remember that these prisoners rebelled simply for their right to better living conditions which included education and healthcare. They deserved to be talked to, not to be executed by the National Guard called by Governor David Rockefeller. Like the Orlando shooting victims, they deserved to be heard. We should also remember how New York governor and oil tycoon David Rockefeller bragged to former President Richard Nixon about quelling the rebellion. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to uphold Rockefeller’s Zionist prison-profiteering-tradition by trying to quell the successful Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement. Because of this success, Zionist pressure has forced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign an executive order barring businesses that join this Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement from doing business with the state of New York.
It is our duty as those who are against Zionist violence, against mass shootings, against what G4S is doing to the world, to show our support for Orlando victims, and against all victims of state violence by supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. Although Mateen said he doesn’t have a problem with Black people, photos of him wearing and choosing to identify with the NYPD show that he identified with forces like the NYPD that have a long history of a problem with Black people, and Palestinian people, as the NYPD has a branch in Israel where it upholds white settler colonialism.
Stopping future massacres like those in Orlando means supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement that is intended to stop the of Palestinian citizens that is happening on a slower and more gradual scale since 1948. An assault weapons ban will not prevent more shootings like those in Orlando; these cosmetic bans are designed only to make liberal Democratic politicians look more concerned and relevant while they continue to economically support “security” firms like G4S.
Orlando should force us to take a long hard look at the growing police state of the United States. The fact that the Orlando S.W.A.T. team took at least two hours to arrive at the Pulse nightclub recalls the state sanctioned Neo-Nazi march that took place in Orlando a decade ago in 2006, one year before Mateen began employment with G4S. According to the Orlando Sentinel, in February of 2006, the city of Orlando granted David Gletty a permit to march, along with 22 other Neo-Nazis, through the Black section of Orlando waving Neo-Nazi flags. These Neo-Nazi marchers were protected by 300 Orlando police officers who were armed against 500 protestors of this march.
A court hearing revealed that David Gletty was an FBI informant and, like the FBI’s role in protecting those who murdered Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney, the FBI also protected the rights of Neo-Nazis to flaunt their racist presence in the Black community in Orlando. In this case a decade prior, it was clear that the Orlando police, like the federal government in its refusal to prosecute George Zimmerman, was protecting the interests of Neo-Nazis. Orlando police recently admitted to fatally killing at least one of those 49 murdered on Sunday. Also at question is exactly how Mateen was able to enter Pulse nightclub with an AK-47 automatic weapon. These questions underscore the consistent relationship between the federal government and Nazis.
Christopher Simpson, John Potash, and Howard Zinn all wrote books documenting the federal government’s recruitment of Nazis since the Second World War to support Klan activity in the South. The murder of Mateen and at least one other of the 49 by the S.W.A.T. team in the Pulse nightclub suggests that federal government intervention will continue to side with Nazi forces as they did in 2006. However exactly how the federal government sided with these forces is not clear. What is clear is that that the effectiveness of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement has prompted the New York Governor, who refuses to uphold a New York State Supreme Court decision declaring Stop-And-Frisk unconstitutional, to try and intimidate businessowners into doing business with companies like G4S that profit from providing “security” to prisons.
It is up to us as citizens to declare our support for a movement that has encouraged divestment from prison industry which has socialized a man like Omar Mateen. -RF.