Google employees call on company to end all contracts with police

Google employees call on company to end all contracts with police
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More than 1,600 Google employees have signed on to an internal petition calling for the company to cancel its contracts with the police.

“The past weeks have shown us that addressing racism is not merely an issue of words, but of actions taken to dismantle the actual structures that perpetuate it,” reads the letter written by the group Googlers Against Racism. “While we as individuals hold difficult but necessary conversations with our family, friends and peers, we are also incredibly disappointed by our company’s response.”

The letter, which comes amid rolling protests against police brutality ignited by the killing by police of George Floyd, highlights the company's Cloud contract with the Clarkstown, N.Y., Police Department, which has been sued for illegally surveilling Black Lives Matter organizers.

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It also calls out Google's indirect support for an Arizona sheriff's department tracking people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Americans are grappling with the historical legacies of slavery and genocide that the country is built on, and have begun to identify the role of the police forces in maintaining a fundamentally white supremacist system,” the petition reads. “Google is profiting off of these racist systems, and we believe this means Google is part of the problem.”

The letter also challenges some of Google's recent public commitments and statements.

Google pledged $175 million to support black business owners and workers, YouTube created a $100 million fund to boost the voices of Black creators.

“We should not be in the business of criminalizing Black existence while we chant that Black Lives Matter,” the letter reads.

A Google spokesperson told The Hill that the company is "committed to work that makes a meaningful difference to combat systemic racism, and our employees have made over 500 product suggestions in recent weeks, which we are reviewing."

"On this one, we were the first major company to decide, years ago, to not make general purpose facial recognition commercially available and we have very clear AI Principles that prohibit its use or sale for surveillance," they continued. "We have long standing terms of use for generally available computing platforms like Gmail, G Suite and Google Cloud Platform, and these products will remain available for governments and local authorities, including police departments, to use."