More than 500 musicians pledge to boycott Amazon

More than 500 musicians have pledged not to participate in Amazon-sponsored events or engage in exclusive partnerships with the company, alleging the tech giant “provides the technical backbone” for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The boycott comes after Amazon Web Services announced the new music festival “Intersect.”

ICE gained widespread negative attention this year over new immigration policies that resulted in the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The pledge, called “No Music for ICE,” cites multiple media reports linking the company to the government agency. One of the most prominent links between the two organizations is Palantir, a company that designed case management technology that the MIT Technology Review described as “a critical component of ICE’s deportation operations.”

Among other demands, “No Music for Ice” wants Amazon to stop providing Cloud services to Palantir.

“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 campaign said in a press release. “We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us.” Fight for the Future, a non-profit organization that works to “ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core,” is behind the campaign.

The artists are asking Amazon to terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies that “commit human rights abuses.” Those agencies, according to the group, include Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The group also wants Amazon to “end projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon’s facial recognition product,” and “reject future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.”

The Intersect Festival, an impetus behind the boycott, is a place “where music, technology, and art converge,” according to Amazon Web Services. The event is modeled after an annual conference after-party that’s been held in Las Vegas since 2012 — but this is the first time the event is open to the public. Kasey Musgraves, the Foo Fighters, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile are among the headline acts announced thus far.

None of the headlining acts had signed the pledge at the time of this article’s publication. Most of the acts that signed on to boycott Amazon are independent artists.

This is not the first time Amazon’s involvement with ICE has sparked protests. Earlier this year, protestors filled Amazon bookstores to demonstrate against the company on the annual Jewish day of mourning and fasting known as Tisha B’Av. Many of the protestors held signs asking Amazon to learn from Jewish history and break ties with oppressive forces.

Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, told CBS News Amazon’s surveillance-based business model “is fundamentally at odds with basic human rights.”

“Artists have tremendous power when we organize,” Greer said. We’re inspired by the powerful work that organizations like Mijente and RAICES have done to hold big tech companies like Amazon accountable for their role providing an operational backbone for the U.S. government’s oppressive and violent attacks on immigrant communities.”

Employees from Amazon and other tech companies have previously boycotted their employers’ involvement with ICE. “Now musicians are joining the fight,” Greer said. “If enough of us join the boycott, we can raise the social cost and isolate Big Tech companies who want to profit from human suffering,” Greer said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.

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