Home Tech Google workers detained by police for protesting cloud contract with Israel

Google workers detained by police for protesting cloud contract with Israel

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Google workers detained by police for protesting cloud contract with Israel

Nine Google workers were kicked out by police from the company’s offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, on Tuesday night after staging an hours-long sit-in protest against a government cloud contract. From Israel.

The Sunnyvale protest occupied the office of Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google’s cloud division, in a building near Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters for more than 8 hours. The New York protest occupied a common area on the 10th floor of Google’s Chelsea location.

Videos seen by WIRED showed people who appeared to be Google security staff walking toward protesting workers at two different offices accompanied by local police. In the video from New York, a man who appears to be relaying a message from Google management informs protesting workers that they have been placed on administrative leave and asks them to take the opportunity to leave peacefully.

“We will not leave,” responds a protesting worker. A uniformed man then introduces the officers as the NYPD and gives them a final ultimatum, saying that the workers have one last chance to leave freely. “If not, you can be arrested for trespassing,” he says. When the protesters again refused to go, the police officers handcuffed them.

WIRED could not independently verify that the four workers in New York and five in Sunnyvale apparently detained by police had been arrested or charged. A person involved in coordinating the protests says New York workers were arrested with desk appearance tickets, which specify when a person must appear in court. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday night’s police action came after “dozens” of employees were placed on administrative leave after participating in the day’s sit-in protests but left peacefully, the person involved says. Protest rallies were also held outside Google offices in New York, Sunnyvale and Seattle.

The action called for Google to abandon a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government known as Project Nimbus that also involves Amazon. Last week Time reported that the contract involves the provision of direct services to the Israel Defense Forces.

Among the workers detained in New York are software engineers Hasan Ibraheem and Zelda Montes. They also include two workers who identified themselves by their names as Jesus and Mohammed in a phone call with protesters outside Google’s New York office on Tuesday.

Project Nimbus has been the subject of protests by Google and Amazon workers for years. A campaign group called No Tech for Apartheid, combining tech workers from the two Muslim- and Jewish-led activist groups, MPower Change and Jewish Voice for Peace, was formed in 2021 after details about the contract were made public. Cloud.

Google and Amazon workers protest outside the company’s offices in 2022 after The interception Documents released showing the contract includes artificial intelligence technology such as video analytics. Protesting tech workers say Israel’s security apparatus could use those capabilities to harm Palestinians.

Israel’s military attack on Gaza, which began after Hamas killed about 1,100 Israelis on October 7, has added new fuel to domestic opposition to Project Nimbus. The Israel Defense Forces have killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since they bombed and entered Gaza last fall.

Last month, Google cloud software engineer Eddie Hatfield interrupted CEO of Google Israel at Mind The Tech, a company-sponsored conference focused on the Israeli technology industry. More than 600 Google employees signed a petition opposing the company’s sponsorship of the conference, and after Hatfield was fired three days later, Vidana Abdel Khalek, a Google trust and safety policy employee. give up in protest.

Google is not the only Silicon Valley giant seeing labor activism related to Israel’s war against Hamas. In late March, more than 300 Apple workers signed an open letter alleging retaliation against workers who had expressed support for the Palestinians, and urging company leaders to show public support for the Palestinians.

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