Last week, more than three dozen organizations collectively called the Seattle Families Belong Together Coalition organized a week’s worth of actions opposing the ongoing abuse of immigrants by our Federal government.
The week included massive protests outside multiple detention centers and ICE offices, meetings with lawmakers and elected officials, and a capstone symposium at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound.
As part of the week of action, Seattle Indivisible organized a day of protests targeting three corporations whose complicity with family separation, indefinite detention, and deportation of immigrants cannot be allowed to continue.
(If you want to skip the specifics and get right to the “to do” list, scroll down to the bottom of the post.)
Those corporations are Amazon, Microsoft, and Greyhound.
Amazon Web Services sells facial recognition technology to ICE’s parent organization.
For those less technically inclined, understanding how Amazon Web Services works can be a headache. The simplest possible explanation is that it works like a cafeteria. AWS customers get access to online processing and storage space and a host of tools that they can activate or deactivate any time it suits them.
One of these services is called Rekognition and it has creepy potential applications. In this video, the general manager of Amazon Rekognition, Ranju Das walks his audience through a scenario in which real time facial recognition of streaming video from live street cameras is able to identify a “person of interest” in a crowd and automatically notify law enforcement via text message.
Amazon claims that Das “got confused and misspoke” about a law enforcement partner’s use of the technology; but regardless of whether or not real time facial recognition is currently being used by law enforcement, the slide Das was referencing is an accurate representation of this technology’s capabilities.
AWS operates like a cafeteria, so this capability is available to any Amazon Web Services client – and that includes the Department of Homeland Security, which is directly responsible for the horrific human rights abuses currently being perpetrated at our Southern border.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the capacity to scan real time video from live street cameras and identify persons of interest to fall into the hands of an organization whose depraved actions have permanently scarred thousands of children and families, and whose current stance on border security contains a terrifying dog whistle to American Nazis.
Our demand of Amazon is simple: cancel your contract with the Department of Homeland Security. Regardless of whether or not they are currently using Rekognition, they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy enough that they should never get the chance.
Here’s some video from our protest outside the Amazon Spheres:
Our goals with this protest (including the banners over the freeways) were:
- Reach rank and file Amazon employees who are in the best position to persuade AWS to drop DHS as a client. We need more brave Amazonians who don’t want to be complicit with these human rights abuses to connect with the Tech Workers Coalition.
- Attach the issue of family separation directly to Amazon’s brand with the use of their logo, fonts, and colors.
Microsoft provides the communication tools ICE uses to coordinate human rights abuses.
Like Amazon, Microsoft also provides information technology services to the Department of Homeland Security. In this case, their contract is directly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which is increasingly behaving like Trump’s personal immigration police force.
Microsoft executives have tried to downplay their involvement with the organization, saying, “Our current cloud engagement with [ICE] is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.”
What this means in plain English is that Microsoft provides e-mail, messaging, and calendaring services to ICE. That means that when ICE wants to schedule or coordinate the separation of families, they do it using Microsoft technology.
Our demand of Microsoft is simple: Do not allow your technology to enable human rights abuses. Cancel your contract with ICE.
Here are some photos from our protest at Microsoft:
Dear @satyanadella: Decline ICE’s contract. ICE is bad for business!! We are proud to be united for Immigrants and against ICE. #familiesbelongtogether #freedomforimmigrants #ICEisbadforbusiness pic.twitter.com/8t9l6rdbBz
— Seattle Indivisible (@SEAindivisible) July 6, 2018
Our goals with this protest were:
- Reach rank and file Microsoft employees who are in the best position to persuade Microsoft to drop ICE as a client. We need more brave Microsofties who don’t want to be complicit with these human rights abuses to connect with the Tech Workers Coalition.
- Refute the attempt to downplay Microsoft’s complicity by making the point that their calendaring tools can be used to schedule human rights abuses.
- Attach the issue of family separation to Microsoft’s brand with the use of their logo, fonts, and colors.
Greyhound does not adequately protect their passengers from unreasonable searches by immigration officials.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects anyone on American soil from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” In practical terms, this means that law enforcement can’t search your personal or private property without a warrant unless they see direct evidence that a crime is in progress. A person’s race or skin color, language, accent, and other factors cannot be considered evidence of a crime.
Greyhound routinely allows agents from ICE as well as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to board their buses and harass their passengers for immigration documents. Accounts of such incidents abound online, but my favorite is the one where a black woman who is an American citizen stood up for her Latino busmates when CBP boarded her bus.
Our demand of Greyhound is simple: Exercise your constitutionally protected rights. Demand a warrant before allowing immigration officials to board your buses or speak to your passengers.
Here are some photos from our protest outside the Greyhound bus depot.
— SEIU6 (@SEIU6) July 6, 2018
Our goals with this protest were:
- Reach Greyhound passengers and drivers and raise their awareness of Greyhound’s actions.
- Attach the issue of family separation directly to Greyhound’s brand with the use of their logo, colors, and fonts.
Our next steps:
These companies are hoping that short attention spans and a spate of fresh outrages from the Trump administration will draw public attention away from their complicity with ICE, but it’s going to take pressure from within these companies and from the outside to make change happen, so we need to make sure to keep public awareness on this issue.
Here’s what you can do:
- If you are a customer of any of these companies, call their customer service or user support and let them know that you haven’t forgotten what they’re doing and that you want them to stop or you’ll take your business elsewhere. (Amazon: 1 (888) 280-4331, Microsoft: 1 (800) 642-7676, Greyhound: 1 (214) 849-8966)
- If you’re an employee of any of these companies (or you know one) send them this post or any of the linked articles and ask them to speak with their managers about their company’s complicity with human rights abuses.
- Post this article to your social media channels and remind people that these companies are complicit with ICE whenever they come up in conversation.
The Seattle Families Belong Together Coalition is comprised of:
Washington Dream Coalition
Casa Latina – Mujeres Sin Fronteras
WA Immigrant Solidarity Network
MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Church Council of Greater Seattle
Seattle Womxn Marching Forward
Washington State Labor Council
Colectiva Legal Del Pueblo
Black Lives Matter King County
Refugee Women’s Alliance
Council on American Islamic Relations – WA
Our Revolution Ballard
Truman National Security Project
Faith Action Network
Neighborhood Action Coalition
World Without Hate
Washington Community Action Network
El Centro De La Raza
Democratic Socialist of America – South King County
Tacoma Rainbow Center
Kids 4 Peace
North Seattle Progressives
Save The Children Action Network
Wallingford United Methodist Church
Tax March Seattle
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Latino Community Fund of Washington State
Social Justice Fund NW