Microsoft workers call on leaders to scrap police contracts

'Every one of us in the CC line are either firsthand witnesses or direct victims'

Microsoft workers call on leaders to scrap police contracts

Microsoft employees have banded together to urge the company’s leaders to confront the issue of systemic racism and police brutality head on.

In an email to top management, more than 250 workers called on CEO Satya Nadella and executive vice president Kurt DelBene to cancel Microsoft’s contracts with law enforcement agencies and to support the Black Lives Movement.

The employees also asked the leaders to join calls for the defunding of the Seattle Police Department. The demands are in direct protest against what the workers believe is the targeting of black Americans and peaceful demonstrators by law enforcers across the country.

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“Every one of us in the CC line are either firsthand witnesses or direct victims to the inhumane responses of SPD to peaceful protesting,” the employees wrote in the email seen by Medium publication OneZero.

The group also encouraged colleagues who live outside Seattle not to turn a blind eye to the violence erupting in the city, which has been battered by “24/7 helicopter noise, teargassing, flashbanging, rubber bullets, gun shots, and vans/buses filled with armed law enforcement”.

“We need awareness and empathy across every level of management asap so that the burden of educating our co-workers doesn’t fall on those of us in the middle of a public safety and mental health crisis,” the employees said

Days before the workers’ petition came to light, Nadella had openly addressed the issue of racial injustice in an email to employees. “I am heartbroken by the deep pain our communities are feeling,” the CEO wrote.

“As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organisation, and do better. For us to have the permission to ask the world to change, we must change first,” he said, before sharing how the company poured in a total of US$1.5m in donations to six groups advancing social justice and addressing racial inequality.

READ MORE: High-profile leaders respond to US race protests

In recent days, Seattle – where Microsoft’s headquarters is located – has seen clashes between police and demonstrators of the Black Lives Matter movement, who are rallying against the killing of George Floyd and many other black Americans at the hands of authorities.

Another group of protestors, which includes lawyers and members of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the SPD this week for the department’s “excessive [use of] force, including using tear gas and flashbang grenades.”

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