Nine Google employees arrested after eight-hour sit-in protest

amazon, nine google employees arrested after eight-hour sit-in protest

Nine Google employees arrested after eight-hour sit-in protest

Nine Google employees who occupied the company’s offices in New York and California were arrested Tuesday night after an eight-hour sit-in.

The workers were protesting Google’s involvement in Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion Israeli government contract for Google and Amazon’s cloud computing services. Employees at the Sunnyvale, California, campus occupied Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office on Tuesday afternoon, while workers in New York held a sit-in in the common area of the Chelsea office’s 10th floor.

Workers in the New York office captured the arrests on video. Around 9:45PM on Tuesday, nearly eight hours into the protest, a group of police officers and a man who appears to work at Google approached the four workers remaining in the New York office and told them to exit the building. “We’re asking you to leave again for the last time,” the man said after informing the workers they’ve been placed on administrative leave and their access to the building has been revoked.

After the protesters refuse to leave, the police tell them they’ll be arrested if they don’t comply. “Listen, we’ll let you walk out the door right now — it’s a non-issue if you’re willing to go. If not, you’re going to be arrested for trespassing,” a New York City police officer tells the protesters.

The Sunnyvale arrests occurred around the same time. Workers at the Sunnyvale office were livestreaming their protest on Twitch and captured the moment they were arrested. In the video, a man who appears to be a security guard asks the workers to leave voluntarily and threatens to call the police. Later, six police officers enter the office to arrest the five workers.

In emailed statements, the employees who were arrested on Tuesday called on Google to pull out of the Project Nimbus contract.

“We did not come to Google to work on technology that kills. By engaging in this contract leadership has betrayed our trust, our AI Principles, and our humanity,” said Billy Van Der Laar, a Sunnyvale-based software engineer.

First announced in 2021, Project Nimbus has been the source of sustained internal protests at Google and Amazon. That year, a coalition of tech workers at both companies under a campaign called No Tech for Apartheid called on their employers to end the contract. Opposition to Project Nimbus has been reignited since the onset of Israel’s war on Gaza. In March, Google fired Eddie Hatfield, a software engineer who publicly protested Project Nimbus during an executive’s presentation at Mind the Tech, an annual Israeli tech conference in New York.

“I’m a Google Cloud software engineer, and I refuse to build technology that powers genocide, apartheid, or surveillance. Project Nimbus puts Palestinian community members in danger,” Hatfield said at the conference. Vidana Abdel Khalek, a United Kingdom-based policy lead at Google, resigned in protest after Hatfield was fired, according to TIME.

More than 600 Google workers signed an open letter asking leadership to drop its sponsorship of Mind the Tech.

“We did not come to Google to work on technology that kills.”

In an emailed statement to The Verge, Anna Kowalczyk, the external communications manager for Google Cloud, said Project Nimbus is not related to the Israeli military. “We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial cloud by Israeli government ministries, who agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy. This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services,” Kowalczyk said.

Last week, however, TIME reported that Google is providing cloud computing services to the Israeli Military of Defense. A company document viewed by TIME shows that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has its own “landing zone” into Google Cloud. The defense ministry reportedly sought consulting assistance from Google to expand its Cloud access, according to a contract viewed by TIME. Google offered the defense ministry a 15 percent discount on the consulting fees because of the “Nimbus framework,” according to the contract, and the defense ministry paid more than $1 million for Google’s consulting services. The contract was not signed, but a comment on it said it was part of “an Israel/Nimbus deal.”

The workers who occupied the two offices cited the TIME report as the impetus for their most recent protest.

Kowalczyk, the Google Cloud spokesperson, said the protests were “part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations. Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and we will investigate and take action.”

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