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Google Employees Demand Cancellation of Police Contracts

Tech giant, which recently committed $175 million to support Black-owned businesses and startups, has been ”profiting“ from racism, according to letter signed by 1,600 employees

More than 1,600 Google employees, in an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, have called on the tech giant to cancel its relationships with police departments across the U.S — a demand the company says it will not be following.

The letter, titled “No Police Contracts” and circulated by a group called “Googlers Against Racism,” started grabbing signatures last week. It comes after more than a month of widespread protesting and rioting in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis; it also comes a week after Google committed hundreds of millions of dollars to better support Black tech workers.

“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,” the letter said, according to The Verge.

It also claims Google is “profiting” from racism, due to its police contracts, and demands Pichai “take real steps to dismantle racism,” according to CNBC. The letter specifically calls out Google’s cloud contract with Clarkstown Police Department in New York, which was sued a few years ago for allegedly spying on Black Lives Matter activists; the department settled the lawsuit last year.

“We as a society have moved past the point where saying Black Lives Matter is not enough, we need to show it in our thinking, in our words and in our actions that Black lives do matter to us,” the letter added. “The past weeks have seen a renewed energy and momentum fighting racism. They have also shown us that addressing racism is not merely an issue of words, but of actions taken to dismantle the actual structures that perpetuate it. 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.”

Last week, Pichai said Google was committing $175 million to support Black-owned businesses, as well as Black startup founders, developers and job seekers. Google-owned YouTube has also committed $100 million to amplify Black and Brown voices.

Google, in a statement shared with The Verge, said it isn’t planning on ending any of its police department contracts.

“We’re 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 deiced, years ago, to not make facial recognition commercial available and we have very clear AI Principles that prohibit its use or sale for surveillance,” a Google rep said. “We have longstanding terms of use for generally available computing platforms like Gmail, GSuite, and Google Cloud Platform, and these these products will remain available for Governments and local authorities, including police departments, to use.”

Google shares were up about 0.9% in early-morning trading on Tuesday, hitting $1,463 per share.