Despite Tuesday’s shutdown of both resolutions, our efforts have not gone in vain! As we called upon our university to divest from Caterpillar, G4S, Raytheon, and Elbit systems, we discovered our university was not invested in two out of the four companies; G4S and Elbit Systems. This was a victory in and of itself. What is also noteworthy is our more recent discovery of G4S divesting from the Israeli market as well due to international pressure. G4S, the British company known for its service and equipment it provides to Israeli prisons and detention centers, has recently announced it will leave Israel so as not to involve itself in work that may tarnish its reputation.
SJP chapters across the nation, including our own, have repeatedly called for divestment from G4S as they are to be held accountable for human rights abuses and violating international law. Not only does G4S supply Israel with services and equipment for prisons and detention centers that torture and hold Palestinians without fair trial or charges, but also holds contracts with Israeli authorities that provide checkpoints throughout the West Bank occupied territories which have also contributed to the make up of the Apartheid wall. That being said, the recentnews of G4S extracting its business and involvement from Israel has been received positively by BDS activists internationally yet at the same time we have yet to see the company initiate its withdrawl. G4S has stated it would remove itself from Israel within the next 12-24 months yet we are skeptical as G4S has made and broken such promises in the past.
Multiple entities such as The Bill Gates foundation and The United Methodist Church have divested from G4S most recently. Interestingly enough, it has also been reported that five student unions in the UK have voted to withdraw their contracts with G4S and have also successfully urged other universities not to renew their contracts as well. As SJP organizers we are optimistic and hope the recent news G4S has announced follows through and we will continue to commend companies for divesting from human rights abuses.
As such events continue to unfold, this demonstrates that on campus student-led efforts and activism have not gone to waste but rather only further inspires, motivates and strengthens SJP’s mission at the university of Minnesota and across other chapters. Although president Kaler interjected with the affairs of our student government, we will remain persistent and hold our university to high standards until it acknowledges its duty to be socially responsible with its investments. As grassroots organizers we remain fully dedicated and will continue to strive, strengthen our mission, and maximize our efforts, and stand in solidarity with the oppressed.