Phyllis Bennis, AlterNet
Omar Mateen worked for a company that was perpetrating systemic violence against vulnerable people long before he took up arms against his LGBTQ neighbors. For nine years Mateen worked for G4S Security, a British-based corporation that contracts with the U.S. and Israeli governments for work that often violates human rights on a massive scale.
G4S, which brags about having 600 staffers on the southern border, has contracts with U.S. immigration authorities to detain and deport people back to Mexico, as well as to run private juvenile detention facilities. In Israel, meanwhile, G4S profits from providing equipment and services in Israeli prisons and interrogation centers where Palestinians are routinely tortured. It’s also involved in running Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Incidentally, G4S is the company that trained Mateen to work as an armed security guard, which licensed him to carry and use weapons. And although his coworkers told supervisors that Mateen “frequently made homophobic and racial comments,” the company did nothing. It kept him on board—and kept him armed.
Since 2012, there’s been a major campaign against G4S, resulting in decisions by major mainstream institutions—like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Methodist Church, numerous European universities, important charities in South Africa and the Netherlands, UN agencies in the Middle East, and more—to divest from G4S holdings, or to cancel or not renew service contracts. G4S is profiting from exactly the kind of anti-Arab and anti-Latino racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia that are all on the rise in the U.S. right now.