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Google employee detained by police protesting cloud contract with Israel

Google employee detained by police protesting cloud contract with Israel


Nine Google employees were removed by police late Tuesday from the company's offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, after holding a sit-in protest for several hours against a cloud contract with the Israeli government.

The Sunnyvale protests occupied Google's cloud CEO Thomas Kurian's office in a building near Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley for more than eight hours. Protesters in New York occupied the 10th floor common area of ​​Google's Chelsea store.

Video seen by WIRED shows what appears to be Google security staff, accompanied by local police, walking up to workers protesting at two different offices. In a video from New York, a man who appears to be relaying a message from Google management informs protesting employees that they have been placed on administrative leave and uses the opportunity to peacefully protest. is asking him to resign.

We are not leaving, the protesting workers replied. A man in uniform then introduces the officers as the New York City Police Department and gives them an ultimatum: they have one last chance to go out freely. Otherwise, he says, he could be arrested for trespassing. When the protesters again refused to leave, police handcuffed them.

WIRED could not independently confirm whether the four New York workers and five Sunnyvale workers believed to have been detained by police have been arrested or charged. The New York workers were arrested with court appearance tickets that specified when they had to appear in court, according to people involved in coordinating the protests. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Officials said police were called in on Tuesday night after dozens of employees who had participated in the daily sit-in protests left peacefully. Protests were also held outside Google offices in New York, Sunnyvale, and Seattle.

The lawsuit asks Google to terminate a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government known as “Project Nimbus,” which also involves Amazon. Time reported last week that the contract includes providing direct services to the Israel Defense Forces.

The workers detained in New York include software engineers Hasan Ibrahim and Zelda Montes. Those include two employees who gave their first names, Jess and Mohammed, during a speakerphone call with protesters outside Google's New York office on Tuesday.

Project Nimbus has long been the subject of protests by Google and Amazon employees. A campaign group called “No Tech for Aparttheid,'' which brings together technologists from Muslim- and Jewish-led activist groups “MPower Change'' and “Jewish Voice for Peace,'' announced that 2021 was formed in the year.

In 2022, Google and Amazon employees protested in front of the companies' offices after The Intercept published documents showing that the contracts included video analytics and other AI technologies. Protesting tech workers say these capabilities could be used by Israeli security services to harm Palestinians.

Israel's military offensive on Gaza, which began after Hamas killed about 1,100 Israelis on October 7, has added new fuel to domestic opposition to the Nimbus plan. The IDF has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians since last fall's bombing and invasion of Gaza.

Last month, Eddie Hatfield, a cloud software engineer at Google, interrupted the managing director of Google Israel at Mind the Tech, the company's conference focused on Israel's technology industry. . More than 600 other Google employees signed a petition opposing the company's sponsorship of the conference, and three days after Hatfield was fired, Vidana Abdel Khalek, a Google trust and safety policy employee, said: He resigned in protest.

Google is not the only major Silicon Valley company whose workers have been linked to Israel's war against Hamas. In late March, more than 300 Apple employees signed an open letter alleging retaliation against employees who expressed support for the Palestinians and calling on company executives to show public support for the Palestinians. .




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