Jimmy Mubenga died of cardiac arrest whilst waiting to be deported on board an Angola-bound plane at Heathrow airport on 12 October 2010. Fellow passengers heard Mubenga scream, “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained and pinned down in his seat. G4S guards forced his head down and restricted his breathing, despite Mubenga already being handcuffed from behind.
On 16 December 2014, three G4S guards were found not guilty of manslaughter. This Black History Month, we remember Jimmy Mubenga and publish an extract from Antony Loewenstein's Disaster Capitalism exposing the institutional racism that acquitted Mubenga's killers, and the government-approved, corporate unaccountability that means G4S still secures massive contracts, earning £6.8 billion last year.
"Racism had become endemic within an economic system that produced dehumanization while suppressing transparency and neglecting proper training."
Photograph: Guardian, Graeme Robertson
Speaking at Walter Benjamin Now, an event at Whitechapel Gallery marking the 75th anniversary of Benjamin's death, Esther Leslie thinks through Benjamin's concepts, in particular the ‘microcosm’, to reflect on the contemporary migrant crisis at the borders of Fortress Europe. These ‘millions of nameless movers’ give Benjamin’s own death a contemporary resonance, as well as endowing his memorial with new meaning in ‘the Now’.
Esther Leslie is a translator of Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Storyteller’ and author of ‘Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde’.
When disaster strikes, who profits? That’s the question asked by journalist Antony Loewenstein in his new book, “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.” Traveling across the globe, Loewenstein examines how companies such as G4S, Serco and Halliburton are cashing in on calamity, and describes how they are deploying for-profit private contractors to war zones and building for-profit private detention facilities to warehouse refugees, prisoners and asylum seekers. Recently, Loewenstein teamed up with filmmaker Thor Neureiter for a documentary by the same name that chronicles how international aid and investment has impacted communities in Haiti, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and beyond.