About 175 musicians are pledging not to participate in music festivals or events sponsored by Amazon until the tech giant drops its cloud services contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and with companies that work with ICE.
“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses,” they wrote in a letter published Thursday. “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 is a response to the Intersect festival in Las Vegas planned for early December, an Amazon Web Services–sponsored event “where music, technology, and art converge.” The Black Madonna, one artist scheduled to perform at the festival, dropped out, saying she wasn’t told Amazon was sponsoring the event.
Intersect is Amazon’s first big music festival, according to Rolling Stone. None of the artists who signed on to the letter appear to be on the lineup for the festival, and other big names, including Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves, are still scheduled to perform.
The musicians are calling on Amazon to end its existing contracts with ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement — the federal agency that runs shelters for unaccompanied migrant children — as well as with military and law enforcement entities. They’re also asking Amazon to stop working with companies that work with ICE and similar agencies, including the data services company Palantir, which immigration advocates have protested over its ties to the Trump administration.
Immigrants’ rights advocates have been calling on Amazon and Palantir to end their contracts with federal immigration agencies for over a year to no avail. Protesters with Jews Against ICE occupied an Amazon bookstore in Manhattan in August. That same month, workers at Whole Foods — which Amazon owns — released a statement decrying the company’s work with Palantir and ICE.
After Amazon announced its plan to open a new office in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in late 2018, activists called on the city and the state to kill the deal, partly because of the company’s ICE contracts. Amazon eventually scrapped its plan to open an office in Queens, but the company hasn’t stopped working with Palantir or the federal government.
Cover: Coinciding with Prime Day, demonstrators gather in Madison Square Park before marching towards Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, Manhattan apartment to protest Amazon technology being used by the Department of Homeland Security. (Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)