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Google employees detained following lengthy protest in the office of Google Cloud’s CEO

Nine Google workers were arrested on trespassing charges after staging a sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, including a protest in Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian’s office. The protests were livestreamed on Twitch and followed rallies outside Google offices in New York, Sunnyvale, and Seattle. The protests were organized by the “No Tech for Apartheid” organization and focused on Project Nimbus, a joint $1.2 billion contract between Google and Amazon to provide cloud computing services to the Israeli government and military.

The protesters sat in Kurian’s office for over nine hours until their arrests, writing demands on his whiteboard and wearing shirts that read “Googler against genocide.” In total, five workers from Sunnyvale and four from New York were arrested. The demonstrations highlight the growing pressure on Google from employees who oppose the military use of its AI and cloud technology.

One of the arrested workers, Cheyne Anderson, a Google Cloud software engineer based in Washington, expressed his opposition to Google taking any military contracts, citing concerns about the impact on people affected by such contracts. A Google spokesperson stated that their cloud services support various governments, including the Israeli government, but clarified that the work does not involve sensitive or military-related activities.

The protests come after previous incidents where Google employees voiced opposition to the company’s involvement with the Israeli government. A Google Cloud engineer, Eddie Hatfield, was fired after interrupting a keynote speech in protest. The company also shut down an internal message board discussing the Israeli military contracts, citing the content as disruptive.

Regarding the situation in Israel, Hamas conducted attacks on Israel, resulting in casualties and hostages. Israel responded with a siege on Gaza, leading to further conflict in the region. The Israeli Ministry of Defense reportedly sought consulting services from Google to expand its access to Google Cloud services, which were used for surveillance in Gaza.

The arrested workers were critical not only of the military contracts but also of their labor conditions at Google. They demanded an end to harassment, intimidation, and censorship of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim employees at Google, as well as addressing health and safety concerns faced by workers in Google Cloud.

Google responded to the protests by stating that the physical obstruction of other employees’ work was a violation of company policies, leading to the arrested workers being placed on administrative leave and having their access to systems revoked. Law enforcement was called in to ensure office safety and remove the protesters from the premises.

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