police murder of Laquan McDonald

The Big Lie in Rahm Emanuel’s Senate Testimony Yesterday

Jeff Cohen, RootsAction

At Rahm Emanuel’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as potential ambassador to Japan, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) deserves credit for questioning Emanuel about what he knew as Chicago’s mayor about the police murder of 17-year-old African American Laquan McDonald – and when he knew it.  Yesterday’s senate hearing marked the 7th anniversary of the 2014 killing, to the day.

But Emanuel was thoroughly dishonest, under oath, when he testified that his administration could not release the shocking dashcam video of the shooting because it did not want to taint “the integrity of an investigation” – and that if a politician intervenes in the release of evidence, “you’ve politicized that investigation.”

Anyone who knows the timeline of events can see the big lie in this testimony. It was the suppression of the video that was “politicized” – a suppression that was decisive in Emanuel’s reelection as mayor. As for the so-called investigation, it had little or no “integrity.”

police murder of Laquan McDonald
Credits: Bob Simpson https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobbosphere/30442919446/

McDonald was killed on Oct 20, 2014, and the police review authority and the Cook County state’s attorney promptly launched investigations (followed by the U.S. Attorney). Crucially, they soon had access to dashcam video clearly showing that McDonald was veering away from Officer Jason Van Dyke who shot him repeatedly, including as he lay on the ground. The authorities quickly received the official autopsy showing sixteen shots.

This was an open-and-shut case, and it started leaking to community leaders and independent journalists that the police claim about McDonald having lunged at police was totally false.

Authorities had all the vital evidence within weeks, and certainly by the end of 2014.

Emanuel’s Reelection

Emanuel stood for reelection on February 24, 2015, four months after the shooting. In an article about the upcoming election that appeared a week before McDonald’s death, Chicago Reporter journalist Glenn Reedus noted that Emanuel’s “tumbling poll numbers put him in poor stead among the city’s African-American voters.” Reedus reported: “An August poll by the Chicago Tribune put Emmanuel’s approval rating at 35 percent. His popularity dropped across all demographics. It is difficult to imagine that with the overwhelming majority of those opposed to him or undecided, there is a possibility he will be returned to office.”

With the video still unknown to the public, Chicago voters denied Emanuel a majority vote in February 2015 – and the mayor was forced into a runoff. Emanuel had received 46 percent of the vote; progressive Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (now a member of Congress) had received 34 percent.

The video remained under wraps during the hard-fought runoff between Emanuel and Garcia that was very much a battle for the hearts and minds of Chicago’s African American voters. On April 7, 2015, Emanuel won the runoff by 56 to 44 percent. If the video had not been suppressed, it’s clear Emanuel would not have been reelected.

Payout Approved Without Debate

Eight days later after Emanuel’s reelection, the Chicago city council approved – without any debate – a $5 million payout to Laquan McDonald’s family, even before a suit was filed; the settlement, crucially, included an agreement that the family could not release the video.

For the next seven months, from April 2015 until November 2015, nothing happened in this open-and- shut case. The authorities indicted no one.

But on Nov 18, 2015 – a full 13 months after the shooting – Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama began considering a lawsuit filed by freelance journalist Brandon Smith demanding release of the dashcam video. A day later, Valderrama ordered the city to release the video.

On Nov. 24, 2015, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who’d sat on the video for more than a year, brought charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke for first degree murder. Hours later, the city complied with the judge’s order by releasing the dashcam video to the public – leading to angry street protests and loud calls for the mayor to resign, with a poll showing that most Chicagoans (by 51 to 29%) wanted Emanuel to resign.

Under oath yesterday, Rahm Emanuel portrayed the 13-month suppression of the video as needed to safeguard the investigation’s “integrity.” All it safeguarded was Emanuel’s reelection.

In the few minutes he was afforded at yesterday’s hearing, Senator Merkley was correct to probe what Emanuel knew about the murder and when he knew it. All he heard from Emanuel was double-talk and evasion.

Now all eyes will be on Merkley – and other Democratic senators who profess that “Black lives mater” and that police need to be held accountable – to see whether they vote to confirm this tainted mayor and elevate him to a prestigious ambassadorship.


Agricultural workers

First Farm Labor Union Launches in New York

 Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio, The Counter

[And now, for some good news. — Progressive Hub]

Twelve workers at a Long Island vineyard became the first agricultural workers to form part of a labor union in New York State. On Sept. 27, the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) certified Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, to represent these workers, who are employed at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, New York.

“My coworkers at Pindar and I joined Local 338 because we want dignity and respect. Our work should be valued and only by receiving equal treatment and things like sick days and paid time off to spend with our loved ones will it be,” Rodolfo M., Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member and worker at Pindar Vineyards, said in a statement. “We know that being a union member will help us get the recognition we deserve for all of our efforts.”

Agricultural workers
By Stefano Lubiana https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefano_lubiana_wines/6874905506/in/photostream/
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US missile

ICBMs Must Be Eliminated, Not 'Modernized'

Daniel Ellsberg and Norman Solomon, The Nation

The single best option for reducing the risk of nuclear war is hidden in plain sight. News outlets don’t mention it. Pundits ignore it. Even progressive and peace-oriented members of Congress tiptoe around it. And yet, for many years, experts have been calling for this act of sanity that could save humanity: Shutting down all of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Four hundred ICBMs dot the rural landscapes of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Loaded in silos, these missiles are uniquely—and dangerously—on hair-trigger alert. Unlike the nuclear weapons on submarines or bombers, the land-based missiles are vulnerable to attack and could present the commander in chief with a sudden use-them-or-lose-them choice. “If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them. Once they are launched, they cannot be recalled,” former Defense Secretary William Perry warns. “The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision”.

US missile
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Colin Powell

Colin Powell Lied Shamelessly To Kickstart The Iraq War

David Swanson

[Our second story about Colin Powell, who passed away recently, was written in 2011. None of the information is new, but it bears repeating that the nice Republican who disavowed Trump was a willing accomplice to the Bush regime’s drive for war in the Middle East, a war that would kill and displace millions for imperial hubris and oil. It matters that the American public remembers that our imperial wars didn’t just “happen,” they were deliberately started by public figures who had to deceive Congress, the international community, and the American people.

Written by David Swanson, Executive Director of World Beyond War and staff with RootsAction. — Progressive Hub]

In the wake of WMD-liar Curveball’s videotaped confession, Colin Powell is demanding to know why nobody warned him about Curveball’s unreliability. The trouble is, they did.

Can you imagine having an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council about a matter of great global importance, with all the world’s media watching, and using it to… well, to make shit up – to lie with a straight face, and with a CIA director propped up behind you, I mean to spew one world-class, for-the-record-books stream of bull, to utter nary a breath without a couple of whoppers in it, and to look like you really mean it all? What gall. What an insult to the entire world that would be.

Colin Powell
Photo: Dan Farber https://flickr.com/photos/farber/266477462/

Colin Powell doesn’t have to imagine such a thing. He has to live with it. He did it on February 5, 2003. It’s on videotape.

I tried to ask him about it in the summer of 2004. He was speaking to the Unity Journalists of Color convention in Washington, D.C. The event had been advertised as including questions from the floor, but for some reason that plan was revised. Speakers from the floor were permitted to ask questions of four safe and vetted journalists of color before Powell showed up, and then those four individuals could choose to ask him something related – which of course they did not, in any instance, do.

Bush and Kerry spoke as well. The panel of journalists who asked Bush questions when he showed up had not been properly vetted. Roland Martin of the Chicago Defender had slipped onto it somehow (which won’t happen again!). Martin asked Bush whether he was opposed to preferential college admissions for the kids of alumni and whether he cared more about voting rights in Afghanistan than in Florida. Bush looked like a deer in the headlights, only without the intelligence. He stumbled so badly that the room openly laughed at him.

But the panel that had been assembled to lob softballs at Powell served its purpose well. It was moderated by Gwen Ifill. I asked Ifill (and Powell could watch it later on C-Span if he wanted to) whether Powell had any explanation for the way in which he had relied on the testimony of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law. He had recited the claims about weapons of mass destruction but carefully left out the part where that same gentleman had testified that all of Iraq’s WMDs had been destroyed. Ifill thanked me, and said nothing. Hillary Clinton was not present and nobody beat me up.

I wonder what Powell would say if someone were to actually ask him that question, even today, or next year, or ten years from now. Someone tells you about a bunch of old weapons and at the same time tells you they’ve been destroyed, and you choose to repeat the part about the weapons and censor the part about their destruction. How would you explain that?

Well, it’s a sin of omission, so ultimately Powell could claim he forgot. “Oh yeah, I meant to say that, but it slipped my mind.”

But how would he explain this:

During his presentation at the United Nations, Powell provided this translation of an intercepted conversation between Iraqi army officers:

“They’re inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.

“Yes.

“For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.

“For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo?

“Yes.

“And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there.”

The incriminating phrases “clean all of the areas” and “Make sure there is nothing there” do not appear in the official State Department translation of the exchange:

“Lt. Colonel: They are inspecting the ammunition you have.

“Colonel: Yes.

“Lt. Col: For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.

“Colonel: Yes?

“Lt. Colonel: For the possibility there is by chance, forbidden ammo.

“Colonel: Yes.

“Lt. Colonel: And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas.

“Colonel: Yes.”

Powell was writing fictional dialogue. He put those extra lines in there and pretended somebody had said them. Here’s what Bob Woodward said about this in his book “Plan of Attack.”

“[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light. Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of ‘forbidden ammo,’ Powell took the interpretation further: ‘Clean out all of the areas. . . . Make sure there is nothing there.’ None of this was in the intercept.”

For most of his presentation, Powell wasn’t inventing dialogue, but he was presenting as facts numerous claims that his own staff had warned him were weak and indefensible.

Powell told the UN and the world: “We know that Saddam’s son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam’s numerous palace complexes.” The January 31, 2003, evaluation of Powell’s draft remarks prepared for him by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (“INR”) flagged this claim as “WEAK”.

Regarding alleged Iraqi concealment of key files, Powell said: “key files from military and scientific establishments have been placed in cars that are being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to avoid detection.” The January 31, 2003 INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK” and added “Plausibility open to question.” A Feb. 3, 2003, INR evaluation of a subsequent draft of Powell’s remarks noted:

“Page 4, last bullet, re key files being driven around in cars to avoid inspectors. This claim is highly questionable and promises to be targeted by critics and possibly UN inspection officials as well.”
That didn’t stop Colin from stating it as fact and apparently hoping that, even if UN inspectors thought he was a brazen liar, US media outlets wouldn’t tell anyone.

On the issue of biological weapons and dispersal equipment, Powell said: “we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq.”

The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK”:

“WEAK. Missiles with biological warheads reportedly dispersed. This would be somewhat true in terms of short-range missiles with conventional warheads, but is questionable in terms of longer-range missiles or biological warheads.”
This claim was again flagged in the February 3, 2003, evaluation of a subsequent draft of Powell’s presentation: “Page 5. first para, claim re missile brigade dispersing rocket launchers and BW warheads. This claim too is highly questionable and might be subjected to criticism by UN inspection officials.”

That didn’t stop Colin. In fact, he brought out visual aids to help with his lying

Powell showed a slide of a satellite photograph of an Iraqi munitions bunker, and lied:

“The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions . . . [t]he truck you […] see is a signature item. It’s a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong.”
The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK” and added: “We support much of this discussion, but we note that decontamination vehicles – cited several times in the text – are water trucks that can have legitimate uses… Iraq has given UNMOVIC what may be a plausible account for this activity – that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives; presence of a fire safety truck (water truck, which could also be used as a decontamination vehicle) is common in such an event.”

Powell’s own staff had told him the thing was a water truck, but he told the U.N. it was “a signature item…a decontamination vehicle.” The UN was going to need a decontamination vehicle itself by the time Powell finished spewing his lies and disgracing his country.

He just kept piling it on: “UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons,” he said.

The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this statement as “WEAK” and added: “the claim that experts agree UAVs fitted with spray tanks are ‘an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons’ is WEAK.”

In other words, experts did NOT agree with that claim.

Powell kept going, announcing “in mid-December weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there.”

The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK” and “not credible” and “open to criticism, particularly by the UN inspectorates.”

His staff was warning him that what he planned to say would not be believed by his audience, which would include the people with actual knowledge of the matter.

To Powell that was no matter.

Powell, no doubt figuring he was in deep already, so what did he have to lose, went on to tell the UN: “On orders from Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials issued a false death certificate for one scientist, and he was sent into hiding.”

The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK” and called it “Not implausible, but UN inspectors might question it. (Note: Draft states it as fact.)”

And Powell stated it as fact. Notice that his staff was not able to say there was any evidence for the claim, but rather that it was “not implausible.” That was the best they could come up with. In other words: “They might buy this one, Sir, but don’t count on it.”

Powell, however, wasn’t satisfied lying about one scientist. He had to have a dozen. He told the United Nations: “A dozen [WMD] experts have been placed under house arrest, not in their own houses, but as a group at one of Saddam Hussein’s guest houses.”

The January 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as “WEAK” and “Highly questionable.” This one didn’t even merit a “Not implausible.”

Powell also said: “In the middle of January, experts at one facility that was related to weapons of mass destruction, those experts had been ordered to stay home from work to avoid the inspectors. Workers from other Iraqi military facilities not engaged in elicit weapons projects were to replace the workers who’d been sent home.”

Powell’s staff called this “WEAK,” with “Plausibility open to question.”

All of this stuff sounded plausible enough to viewers of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. And that, we can see now, was what interested Colin. But it must have sounded highly implausible to the U.N. inspectors. Here was a guy who had not been with them on any of their inspections coming in to tell them what had happened.

We know from Scott Ritter, who led many UNSCOM inspections in Iraq, that U.S. inspectors had used the access that the inspection process afforded them to spy for, and to set up means of data collection for, the CIA. So there was some plausibility to the idea that an American could come back to the UN and inform the UN what had really happened on its inspections.

Yet, repeatedly, Powell’s staff warned him that the specific claims he wanted to make were not going to even sound plausible. They will be recorded by history more simply as blatant lies.

The examples of Powell’s lying listed above are taken from an extensive report released by Congressman John Conyers: “The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War.”

David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” http://warisalie.org


Climate change protest

Did You Hear About The 655 Climate Protesters Arrested in DC?

Kate Yoder, Grist

A total of 655 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., last week as they protested fossil fuel projects and demanded that President Joe Biden declare a climate emergency. Demonstrators began blocking the fence outside the White House on Monday, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, chanting and waving signs. On Thursday, Indigenous leaders sat on the floor of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, linking arms; activists sprayed fake oil on the steps of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sending pink and blue smoke plumes into the air. On Friday, youth activists formed a blockade in the road leading to the Capitol.

These “People vs. Fossil Fuels” protests, led by Indigenous organizers, included people resisting oil and gas projects all over the country, from Alaska to Appalachia. They were protesting not just climate change, but also water contamination and sexual assaults against Indigenous women associated with oil and gas projects.

Climate change protest
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News Control

Private Equity Is Killing Journalism

McKay Coppins, The Atlantic

[it’s widely understood why a free press is essential to a democracy. If people don’t know what is happening, they won’t be able to respond to circumstances in reasonable ways. While we still have a ‘free press’ there’s less freedom and less press these days than you might think, as the Atlantic reveals.
The saga of the Chicago Tribune is representative of trends and realities growing in force for decades, but that might have reached a tipping point. This article has it all: private equity firms, mass layoffs, the death of journalism, and of course important stories covered by no one at all. We value a free press, and want it to survive and thrive. But the possibility exists that this cannot happen while allowing private capital to do as it pleases when it comes to covering the news – or owning it. — Progressive Hub]

Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital-media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.

In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.

Two days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public-housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom was gone.

The hollowing-out of the Chicago Tribune was noted in the national press, of course. There were sober op-eds and lamentations on Twitter and expressions of disappointment by professors of journalism. But outside the industry, few seemed to notice. Meanwhile, the Tribune’s remaining staff, which had been spread thin even before Alden came along, struggled to perform the newspaper’s most basic functions. After a powerful Illinois state legislator resigned amid bribery allegations, the paper didn’t have a reporter in Springfield to follow the resulting scandal. And when Chicago suffered a brutal summer crime wave, the paper had no one on the night shift to listen to the police scanner.

News Control
Credit: Anthony Quintano https://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/50245773423
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CO2 emissions

Climate Change: Wealthy Countries Did It, They Should Pay For It

Jason Hickel, The Lancet

[The Lancet is better known for medical research and public health. But they see the causes and effects of climate change on public health and the catastrophic direction we’re heading in, as a species. In this article, they make it clear just how much responsibility rich countries have for climate change. The Global North (North America, Europe, Australia) released the carbon causing so much harm. It stands to reason that they must also shoulder the primary costs of implementing climate solutions. — Progressive Hub]

As of 2015, the USA was responsible for 40% of excess global CO2 emissions. The European Union (EU-28) was responsible for 29%. The G8 nations (the USA, EU-28, Russia, Japan, and Canada) were together responsible for 85%. Countries classified by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as Annex I nations (ie, most industrialised countries) were responsible for 90% of excess emissions. The Global North was responsible for 92%. By contrast, most countries in the Global South were within their boundary fair shares, including India and China (although China will overshoot soon).

Interpretation

These figures indicate that high-income countries have a greater degree of responsibility for climate damages than previous methods have implied. These results offer a just framework for attributing national responsibility for excess emissions, and a guide for determining national liability for damages related to climate change, consistent with the principles of planetary boundaries and equal access to atmospheric commons.

CO2 emissions
By Geralt https://pixabay.com/es/illustrations/co2-cansada-se%C3%B1ales-de-tr%C3%A1fico-4767388/

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Defund The Police Campaign

The Battle for 'Defund': Budgets Are Rising, But So Are Alternatives to Policing

Ray Levy Uyeda, Prism

One year after the George Floyd uprisings that prompted a nationwide reevaluation of what role police actually play in upholding public safety, cities are backtracking on moves to redirect funds from municipal police budgets. In response to the uprisings, civil rights activists, community organizations, and protesters demanded that officials defund police budgets, which often account for significant portions of city spending and eclipse funding for local programs, schools, and libraries.

Now, some local governments are restoring police budgets that had been recently cut, and some departments are receiving additional funding on the claim that a nationwide increase in crime demands an increased police presence. In Austin, after vowing to cut funding by $100 million, the city council increased the police budget to a record $442 million. The New York Times recently wrote on the issue that departments felt pressure to increase police funding, in some cases offering signing bonuses, in response to the number of officers who resigned their positions.

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Democrats and Unions lose popularity in middle U.S

Democrats Underestimate How Much Trouble They Are In

Hamilton Nolan, In These Times

[Nolan is addressing a debate in Democratic Party circles that asks the question: what national electoral strategy will help Democrats do well in 2022 and 2024? Often, partisans either demand to include/remove less popular items from the agenda, especially those that center racial or other constituencies and their needs. This is related to the ‘Democrats should not pander to white working class voters’ trope.

What is new here, is a redefinition of the problem as being fundamentally about the loss of union members across nine states, especially in smaller cities that used to be manufacturing hubs. Viewed with that lens, the problem – and likely solutions – are no longer about messaging, but about organizing. — Progressive Hub]

There is nothing the Democratic Party loves more than indulging in some existential hand wringing over its declining popularity in the crumbling American heartland. Indeed, this was the favorite pundit pastime of the entire Trump era. Amid the wailing over cultural differences and economic insecurity, a rarely heard word is ​“unions.” Yet, a new report adds to the evidence that the fate of the Democratic Party is intimately tied to the decline of union power. It’s also one more sign that the labor movement itself needs to throw everything it has into new organizing with a fervor that has been lacking in our lifetimes.

The new analysis, by several Democratic consultants, parses election results at a county level to argue that the simple narrative that Democrats win urban areas, Republicans win rural areas, and the suburbs are a battleground, is simplistic and misleading. In fact, the report finds that Democrats’ biggest losses in the 2020 election came in ​“factory town” counties with smaller cities that traditionally relied on manufacturing employment — counties that account for 40% of all voters.

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End Israeli Apartheid

Workers at Google and Amazon Demand: Stop Supporting Israeli Apartheid

Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

A day after hundreds of Amazon and Google workers condemned their employers for complicity in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians, over 40 grassroots groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to amplify the efforts of activists around the world working to stop apartheid profiteers.

“As the Israeli military bombed homes, clinics, and schools in Gaza and threatened to push Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem this past May, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud executives signed a $1.22 billion contract to provide cloud technology to the Israeli government and military,” the campaign noted. “By doing business with Israeli apartheid, Amazon and Google will make it easier for the Israeli government to surveil Palestinians and force them off their land.”

“Technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

End Israeli Apartheid
By Alisdare Hickson https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/51183566252/in/photostream/

The “No Tech for Apartheid” campaign was launched by groups including the Adalah Justice Project, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Data for Black Lives, Fight for the Future, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), MPower Change, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), and World Beyond War.

“We’re heeding the call from hundreds of Google and Amazon workers to rise up against the contract, known as Project Nimbus,” the campaign said. “Technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Following in the footsteps of those who fought to divest from apartheid South Africa and won, it’s our responsibility to rise up in support of Palestinian freedom.”

International critics—including leading human rights groupssurvivors of South African apartheid, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter—have argued that Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, illegal Jews-only settlements, segregated roads, separation wall, and other policies and actions constitute a form of apartheid.

The No Tech for Apartheid campaign follows an open letter signed by more than 500 Amazon and Google employees calling on the tech giants to cancel Project Nimbus, which they said “allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land.”

 

Fight for the Future director Evan Greer said in a statement that “Israel’s military has contracted Amazon and Google to build and fuel the technology used to oppress, occupy, and bomb Palestinians. The services Amazon and Google provide and the technology they build [power] drones, surveillance, and sophisticated weaponry for the Israeli military.”

“Make no mistake, if we don’t get Amazon and Google to cut their ties with Israel, the stage will be set for them to become the backbone of the 21st-century military-industrial complex,” she continued. “And developments made in powering Israel’s war machine will be exported to militaries and police departments across the world, including America.”

“Make no mistake, if we don’t get Amazon and Google to cut their ties with Israel, the stage will be set for them to become the backbone of the 21st-century military-industrial complex.”

“We’re at a precipice with lives at stake,” Greer added. “Nothing short of Amazon and Google ending the Project Nimbus contract is acceptable.”

Olivia Katbi Smith, North America coordinator for the BDS Movement, said that “Amazon and Google are helping to sustain Israeli apartheid in its repression of the Palestinian people with a massive cloud contract that will enable increased surveillance, discrimination, and displacement.”

“Mass as well as targeted surveillance of disenfranchised Indigenous Palestinians, who are denied basic rights and recourse to justice, is a core feature of Israel’s system of repression, oppression, and colonial dispossession,” she added. “This repression, which is often tested on Palestinians before being exported globally, must be challenged by us all, together.”

JVP executive director Stefanie Fox said that “courageous workers at Google and Amazon are calling on their employers to stop enabling the Israeli government’s oppression of Palestinian families—and we are proud to stand with them.”

“Google and Amazon executives should listen to their employees, pull out of the Nimbus contract, and cut all ties with the Israeli military,” she added. “No tech for apartheid!”