Durham County, North Carolina, has dropped an Israeli security company under fire from the BDS movement, prompting anti-occupation activists to claim victory. However, county officials were less equivocal about their reasons for searching for a new security provider, according to local newspaper The Herald-Sun.
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Durham would be the first municipal area in the United States to drop G4S since the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement took on the private security company for doing business with the Israel Prison Service and operating checkpoints over the Green Line, according to anti-occupation group Jewish Voice for Peace.
Durham County officials have been under pressure to cut ties with G4S since this summer. Over 200 people protested in Durham against Israel's Gaza offensive, denouncing the relationship with G4S.
Since the summer, the county has worked with G4S on a month-to-month contract, The Herald-Sun reported, and is now going "back on the market to find a private-sector firm to supply armed and unarmed guards."
“Since I moved to Israel and saw the reality of life for Palestinians with my own eyes, I could no longer remain silent,” said Emily Schneider, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace – NC. “I waited for hours with Palestinian friends at checkpoints that look like cages—that run with G4S security equipment. Thank you, Durham County Commissioners, for boycotting G4S,” added Schneider, according to a press release issued by Jewish Voice for Peace – NC.
County officials did not directly attribute their decision to the role of G4S in the territories but rather expressed concern about a system they described as entirely disorganized for its own good, according to The Herald-Sun. They say the problem is that there is no central control over the system, from building access and emergency planning to security cameras.
Moreover, “much of what is required in a centralized security strategy goes beyond providing armed and unarmed” guards, said Deputy County Manager Marqueta Welton at a briefing for county commissioners Monday night.
BDS supporters also claimed victory in its fight against G4S in May, when it was reported that Bill Gates had sold some of his stake in the security company.
G4S announced in June that it would end its contract with the prison service in three years.