Tear gas fired by Ferguson police comes from company supplies Israel, Bahrain and Egypt

“When tear-gas was first fired into the streets of Ferguson, Missouri at people angry at the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Palestinian activists sent out messages on Twitter giving people tips for how to deal with tear gas’ effects. And there was another direct connection between events in Missouri and the West Bank, as Palestinian activist Mariam Barghouti noted: the company that supplies the Israeli army with tear gas is the same company supplying the police in Ferguson. […]”

(Read full article at Mondoweiss.net)

tear gas canisters from egypt, palestine, ferguson - and the headquarters of cts

“Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) calls Jamestown, Pennsylvania home. Often marketed and produced under the brand name Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) – they provide tear gas to the governments of Israel and Egypt as well as many others. In fact, until recently, Combined Systems used to fly the Israeli flag at its headquarters. According to its own advertising, its ‘OC Vapor System is ideal for forcing subjects from small rooms, attics, crawl spaces, prison cells,’ and is used against prisoners in the US. CSI is owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlye Group. Point lookout Capitol, which holds a controlling number of shares, says glowingly of CSI: ‘The company’s CTS branded product line is the premiere less-lethal line in the industry today.’ Point Lookout Capital is headquartered in New York City. Nearly every week Combined Systems Inc. holds trainings across the US for law enforcement and security personnel, in using their ‘chemical munitions’ and other weaponry. Combined Systems tear gas was exported into Egypt via Israel during the January 2011 Egyptian uprising and is one of the largest suppliers of tear gas used to repress uprisings globally.

Combined Systems has aggressively propagandized its products. On May 18, 2011, the Chilean government announced— in the wake of a study by the University of Chile which demonstrated that CS exposure may lead to miscarriages— that they would temporarily suspend the use of tear gas throughout the country. Latin America News Dispatch quotes then-Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter as saying: ‘[I]t seems reasonable to suspend the use of tear gas until new medical reports dispel any doubts about the appropriateness of employing these gases to confront situations of public disorder and vandalism.’ Fortunately for the Chilean government— and unfortunately for Chilean protesters, such as the 30,000 protesters who, a week earlier, had gathered to demonstrate against the HidroAysén hydroelectric project and been faced with tear gas— the Chilean government was able to put together a report, three days later, citing Combined Systems, arguing that tear gas was safe. The report, and the lifting of the ban on tear gas, came just in time for the state to use tear gas against the next round of HidroAysén protests.

In the West Bank, many protesters have died or been seriously injured as a result of being shot at close range by Combined Systems tear gas canisters, including 28 year old Mustafa Tamimi of Nabi Saleh who died in 2011 after half of his face was shot off by a Combined Systems tear gas canister. In 2009 Bassem Abu Rahmah, from Bil’in, was killed by a Combined Systems canister, and in 2010, his sister Jawaher was as well. The number of deaths as well as serious injuries as a result of teargas cannisters has drastically increased since 2008, when Israel began using Combined Systems’ ‘extended range’ 40mm cartridges, sold under the brand name ‘Indoor Barricade Penetrator,’ and which travel at a velocity of 122 meters per second and are designed to penetrate buildings. Although the manufacturers’ labels clearly indicate that the teargas grenades are not to be used at short range and are not to be fired people, this has not stopped the Israeli military from doing so— effectively turning these canisters into large bullets. (For more info, check out the B’Tselem report, page 8. To see the manufacturer’s website for the Indoor Barricade Penetrator, click here.) Combined Systems canisters have also been used to kill protesters in Guatemala.”

(Source: Facing Tear Gas)

‘A level of racist violence I have never seen’: UCLA professor Robin D. G. Kelley on Palestine and the BDS movement

AK: And so that brings us to the second question: talk about the trip you recently took to Palestine, why you went and what you saw.

RK: In 2009, I was invited to join the board of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.[…]We went to Ramallah, met the president of Birzeit University, we met with other faculty, the founders of PACBI. We went to East Jerusalem to visit Sheikh Jarrah and some of the families that have been dispossessed from their own homes. We went to Hebron, and visited and talked to Palestinian merchants, and witnessed a level of racist violence that I hadn’t even seen growing up as a black person here in the States (laughs), I have to say, and I’ve been beat by the cops. The level of racist violence from the settlers is kind of astounding. We visited Aida refugee camp just north of Bethlehem, and we went to Bethlehem as well. On my own, I went to Nablus and visited the Balata refugee camp. We also went to Haifa, and we met with a group of Palestinian-Israeli scholars and intellectuals to talk about the boycott.

So to me what was important wasn’t just passing through checkpoints, it wasn’t just witnessing the day to day oppression, acts of dispossession, the expansion of these settler communities in the hills overlooking and intimidating Palestinian villages. It wasn’t just that. That was a very, very important part of the trip because what it did in some ways made tangible the kind of oppression, the nature of dispossession, that we read about and knew about. We were prepared. What was important equally was our conversations with active members of Palestinian civil society, our conversations with activists who are organizing against the wall, our conversations with scholars at Haifa, at Birzeit and independent intellectuals. Because what it produced for us wasn’t just a fact-finding mission, you know, as these things often are. It wasn’t just, you know, “occu-tourism,” visiting and seeing for yourself. That wasn’t, to me, the key thing. The key thing was the kind of engagement that helped us better understand why the boycott is central, the complications in pushing for boycott, and how can we sharpen our political critique. Because what we came away with is recognizing that this is a kind of joint, collective venture–that we are not advocating on behalf of Palestinians, but partners with Palestinians for the right to self-determination. And the leadership comes from the Palestinian people. So we’re supporting that movement, and recognizing that what’s happening there is not exceptional, but rather part of a larger global process of late colonialism and neoliberalism, and that what happens in Palestine is going to have an impact on the rest of the world.

This is a short excerpt from an interview with UCLA professor Robin D. G. Kelley on Palestine solidarity, Israeli apartheid and military occupation, and BDS. You can read the full interview here.

UCLA Professor Robin D.G. Kelley
UCLA Professor Robin D.G. Kelley