Posted October 25, 2019, 2:57 AM
More than 700 musicians have signed a “No Music for ICE” open letter pledging to boycott participating in Amazon-sponsored festivals or partnerships until the company stops supporting human rights violations through its contracts with ICE and other US government agencies.
“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses,” write the artists, in a letter posted Thursday at NoMusicForICE.com by digital rights group Fight for the Future, and at a new Twitter account: @NoMusicForICE. The artists pledge to continue the boycott until Amazon meets the following demands:
“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 continues. “We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us.”
The letter was organized by an ad-hoc group of artists and activists including Sadie Dupuis, Evan Greer, Adult Mom, Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, Alex Lichtenauer, @k8_or_die, Carmen Perry of Remember Sports, and Jes Skolnik.
“My music peers’ collective outrage at the announcement of Amazon’s Intersect festival made several of us realize how desperately we need to formalize our concerns,” said Sadie Dupuis of the bands Speedy Ortiz and Sad13. “Cartoonists Against Amazon, No Tech for ICE, Whole Worker, and other groups against Amazon’s partnership with Palantir and support of ICE have set tremendous examples, showing solidarity with those most impacted by invasive technologies. They’ve demonstrated how powerful it can be to take a hard stance against accepting money earned on the suffering of others. Navigating the ethics of the music industry can be tricky, but it shouldn’t be tricky to say no to opportunities that are complicit with ICE. Doing so would be antithetical to many of our missions as artists, and it’s time to say we won’t.”
Greg Saunier of the band Deerhoof said, “One would think that shame would be enough. One would think that providing AI and facial recognition technology to military and law enforcement, during a time of mass deportations, crackdowns on popular protests, and flagrant incidents of police brutality would give one pause. But that’s not the way Amazon works. As Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector of Amazon Web Services, explains Amazon’s priorities during this era of what many are calling a neo-fascist takeover of several world governments including our own, ‘We are committed to our customer, and we are unwaveringly committed to the U.S. government and the governments we work with around the world.’ We musicians are therefore organizing something more than shame. A boycott!”
Jacinta Gonzalez, Senior Campaign Director of Mijente, who are leading the NoTechForICE movement, said: “We’re happy to see musicians making the connections between the human rights abuses carried out by ICE and the for-profit companies supporting them. Amazon is not a passive player in this: the cloud storage they provide for ICE’s services is sophisticated—cutting-edge databases, algorithms, and servers that are tailor-made to fulfill ICE’s needs. Amazon is not a passive vendor in this, and it’s important that in times like these artists take a stand and refuse to take blood money.”
Sammus added, “The powers that be at Amazon have been relentless in their pursuit to make this company indispensable to the ways many of us live – and even with an understanding of Amazon’s complicity and centrality in reinforcing various structures of oppression, it often may feel too difficult to evade their reach. This is one way that we can and must push back. As creatives we have to recognize the power we possess in effecting change and sending a message not just through the art we produce but also the channels through which we share it. We have to draw lines and this is one I am choosing to draw because nobody should ever have to live under the kind terrorism that ICE has inflicted upon countless immigrant communities.”
“Lots of companies do unethical stuff. Amazon seems to enjoy it. They’re trying to bonegraft themselves to government agencies and authoritarian structures to make their monopoly status impossible to challenge. As big tech and surveillance capitalism creep further and further into the music industry, it’s no surprise that artists are fighting back,” said Evan Greer (she/her), queer indie-punk artist and Deputy Director of Fight for the Future.
“Power without accountability is tyranny,” added rapper Immortal Technique.