Why Amazon Workers Are Accusing the E-Tailer of Hypocrisy Over Its Statement Condemning Racism

A group of Amazon employees have accused the e-tail giant of hypocrisy after it posted a statement condemning racism and injustice against black people.

In a statement on Sunday, Amazon spoke out against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 by white police officer Derek Chauvin. “The inequitable and brutal treatment of black people in our country must stop,” it read. “Together we stand in solidarity with the black community — our employees, customers and partners — in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.”

Yesterday, however, some employees through the account @WeWontBuildIt — whose bio reads “Amazon workers calling for accountability and transparency in the tech we build” — questioned the company’s stance in light of the company’s relationship with law enforcement. “Which police contracts have you cut?” read the tweet. “How many remain?”

Amazon has continued to face criticism for licensing its proprietary facial recognition software to police officers. The Seattle-based retailer has touted the software, called Rekognition, for purposes including user verification, object detection and content search, among others. However, according to some civil liberties groups and artificial intelligence experts, the software could potentially be used to target people of color, minorities and immigrants.

Shortly after Amazon’s post on Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union replied, “Cool tweet. Will you commit to stop selling face recognition surveillance technology that supercharges police abuse?”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The backlash comes amid nationwide protests against the recent string of killings of African-Americans at the hands of cops and other authorities. Numerous fashion and footwear brands — including Reebok, Nordstrom and Nike — have called out such injustices, while a growing number of fashion firms have also pledged donations in the fight against racism and injustice.

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