Oct 24, 2019
More than 300 musicians on Thursday pledged not to participate in exclusive partnerships with Amazon or events sponsored by the company unless it severs ties with law enforcement and government agencies that enforce the Trump administration's inhumane immigration policies.
"We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies."
The pledge came in an open letter published on the website of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, which is still collecting signatures.
"We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies," the letter declares. "We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us."
The letter highlights human rights concerns involving particular federal agencies--Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement--and outlines the artists' demands of Amazon:
- Terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses;
- Stop providing Cloud services and tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the U.S. government's deportation machine;
- End projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon's facial recognition product; and
- Reject future engagements with aforementioned bad actors.
"It has recently come to light that Amazon Web Services, an Amazon subsidiary with known ties to ICE and law enforcement, is hosting a festival marketed as an experience 'where music, technology, and art converge,'" reads the letter. "We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone supporting ICE's human rights abuses."
\u201cThe music community will not be complicit! We invite musicians to stand in solidarity against ICE and tech companies like Amazon that power it. Take the pledge at https://t.co/f8n9gmVehu\n#NoMusicForICE #NoTechForIce\u201d— No Music For ICE (@No Music For ICE) 1571922509
"As Big Tech and surveillance capitalism creep further and further into the music industry, it's no surprise that artists are fighting back," Evan Greer, a queer indie-punk artist and deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement Thursday.
According to the advocacy group, the letter was organized by "an ad-hoc group of artists and activists," including Greer, Adult Mom, Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, Alex Lichtenauer, @k8_or_die, Carmen Perry, Jes Skolnik, and Sadie Dupuis.
"My music peers' collective outrage at the announcement of Amazon's Intersect festival made several of us realize how desperately we need to formalize our concerns," explained Dupuis, a member of the bands Speedy Ortiz and Sad13.
"The powers that be at Amazon have been relentless in their pursuit to make this company indispensable to the ways many of us live--and even with an understanding of Amazon's complicity and centrality in reinforcing various structures of oppression, it often may feel too difficult to evade their reach," said rapper and record producer Sammus. "This is one way that we can and must push back."
"As creatives we have to recognize the power we possess in effecting change and sending a message not just through the art we produce but also the channels through which we share it," Sammus added. "We have to draw lines and this is one I am choosing to draw because nobody should ever have to live under the kind terrorism that ICE has inflicted upon countless immigrant communities."
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