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Burning Man protesters raise awareness of Palantir, Amazon ICE ties



burning manJim

  • Advocacy group Mijente brought a giant cage to Burning
    Man on Friday to criticize Palantir and Amazon’s involvement
    with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 
  • Palantir has an active contract with ICE to provide
    investigative case management software to the agency.
  • Amazon provides infrastructure to Palantir, and more
    than 100 Amazon employees have asked CEO Jeff Bezos to drop the
  • Mijente aims to raise awareness of tech companies’
    connection with the detention of children and families at the
    US-Mexico border.

Mijente, a national group
for Latinx and Chicanx organizing, brought a giant cage to
Burning Man on Friday to voice concerns about Amazon and
Palantir’s involvement with US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE).  

Palantir has a roughly $51
million contract
 with ICE to provide investigative case
management software to the agency, which deems Palantir’s
surveillance services “mission critical,”
according to The Intercept
. ICE relies on Palantir’s
software to gather data on undocumented immigrants’ employment
information, phone records, immigration history, and more.

Amazon’s cloud services
for its operations
, and more than 100 Amazon employees

have circulated an internal letter
 asking CEO Jeff Bezos
to stop providing infrastructure to Palantir. Mijente has
also launched a
 asking Amazon to drop the Palantir

Burning Man is a
popular destination for tech executives
; some of the known
attendees include Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Mijente chose to send representatives to Burning Man because so
many executives, as well as employees from Palantir and Amazon,
attend the festival, said Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign
organizer at Mijente. 

“It’s a festival, it’s a place
where they can relax, let their hair down in the desert and have
fun,” Gonzalez told Business Insider. “We thought that it was
particularly ironic and a contrast to what’s happening in other
deserts in this country, where children are being separated from
their parents, where people are being detained indefinitely
thanks to the technology that a lot of these companies are

As the Mijente representatives
walk through Black Rock City with a giant cage on wheels
(intended to raise awareness of Palantir and Amazon’s actions)
they will

give out ice and
fans to Burning Man attendees.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to crack down
on illegal entry across the US-Mexico border has separated
thousands of families.
Nearly 2,000 children were separated
from their parents in
the first six weeks of the policy, and
The Washington Post reported
that nearly 500 children are
still in US government-funded shelters without their parents
despite a July 26 deadline to reunite the families.

Most of the parents of the children who are still in custody have
already been deported. Nearly 2,000 parents were arrested
and placed in federal court proceedings
near the border, and
many remain in custody.

“We hope to really both raise
awareness but also start to have folks understand how these tech
companies are contributing to this in efforts to be able to get
Amazon to drop Palantir from its cloud and stop collaborating
with these tremendous human rights abuses that we are
witnessing,” Gonzalez said. 

Friday’s action is part of a recent rise
in advocacy at Burning Man
. Last year, a group of President
Trump impersonators traveled to Black Rock City, and some
attendees set up booths for voter education. The Temple, an
annual Burning Man structure meant as a space for mourning,
included signs saying “Trans Lives Matter.” 

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