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Because "We've Seen This Before," Never Again Action Protesters Shut Down Amazon Offices in Boston

"I had ancestors killed in the Holocaust. We feel this in our bones. We need to mobilize."

Never Again protesters flooded Boston streets on Thursday. Demonstrators shut down Amazon's Cambridge office.

Never Again protesters flooded Boston streets on Thursday. Demonstrators shut down Amazon's Cambridge office. (Photo: Sarah Jean Horwitz/Twitter)

Demonstrators with the Jewish activist group Never Again Action on Thursday shut down a Cambridge, Massachusetts Amazon office in protest of the tech giant's coordination and cooperation with President Donald Trump's war on immigrants. 

"As a Jewish person, we've seen this before," Ben Lorber, one of the protesters for the action, told The Boston Globe. "I had ancestors killed in the Holocaust. We feel this in our bones. We need to mobilize."

Amazon's work with the White House on immigration detention has been a controversial flashpoint for the world's largest online retailer. As Common Dreams reported in July, the company's work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has drawn protests from both the company's opponents and workers. 

Never Again marched from Boston's New England Holocaust Memorial to Cambridge on Thursday, temporarily snarling traffic on a number of city streets.

The group occupied the Amazon office until 12 of the demonstrators were arrested.

In a dispatch from his column Hell World, Boston-based writer Luke O'Neil noted the current climate in the city's courtrooms, including, as Common Dreams reported Wednesday, Judge Richard Sinnott's refusal to allow Suffolk County DA Rachel Roillins' office decline to prosecute demonstrators from last weekend's so-called "Straight Pride Parade."

"You would think they will be let off easy with a warning like others have in similar recent arrests," wrote O'Neil, "but considering how bad the situation involving the people arrested at the protest last weekend has gone under the fascist watch of Judge Sinnott—who refused DA Rachael Rollins' request to dismiss charges against many of the protestors leading to a whole fucking thing—who is to say what will happen."

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A GoFundMe page has been set up for the arrested protesters. 

Protesters at the Cambridge offices reminded Amazon that their cooperation with ICE was not unique; after all, "technology companies have been enabling racist state violence for centuries," as the group's Twitter account pointed out in a tweet featuring a video of a demonstrator laying out the connections between the Nazis and IBM.

Democracy Now! quoted one of the protesters making that connection during the Thursday action:

As Jews, we have witnessed how technology companies willfully partner with racist governments to support state violence. We know that all of this has happened before and that worse things can happen. We have a story to share with you about a company called International Business Machines, or IBM. In the 1930s, IBM was an American company, but it had subsidiaries all over the world. In Nazi Germany, IBM workers used IBM tools to process millions of census forms and compile the data for government use.

Amazon did not provide comment to reporters about the demonstration—but, as The Boston Globe reported, Amazon has been a target for anti-ICE protests for over a year:

The activists chose to march to the Amazon office because, they say, the company makes it easier for ICE to detain and deport immigrants. In June 2018, Amazon employees wrote a letter to company executives detailing their own concerns about the company's relationship with ICE. The employees specifically asked Amazon to cut ties with the data-mining company Palantir, which provides much of the technological backbone for ICE's detention and deportations; Palantir runs on Amazon Web Services, according to the employees.

Protest actions against the Trump administration's war on immigrants can be dangerous. On August 14, Captain Thomas Woodworth of the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island used his truck as a battering ram, driving into a group of Never Again protesters. 

Watch Thursday's action, via Never Again's Facebook page: 

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