Stop, collaborate, and listen: Amazon's complicit in ICE's extraditions (plus other abuses of human rights enabled by that agency's authoritarian agenda)
That's why hundreds of musicians—nearly 500, at the time of this writing, though it was just over 100 when news broke Thursday morning—have signed onto an open letter pledging to boycott Amazon festivals, events, and other exclusive deals until the tech giant stops enabling the systematic abuses of Immigration Customs Enforcement. The list of signatories includes Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, as well as Ted Leo, Immortal Technique, Downtown Boys, Thursday, WHY?, Jeff Rosenstock, the Mowglis, War on Women, Diet Cig, Tim Kasher (of Cursive/The Good Life), and many more.
These are the demands for Amazon, directly from that open letter:
Terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses
Stop providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government's deportation machine
End projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon's facial recognition product
Reject future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.
I signed my own band onto the list earlier this week, after catching wind of the movement on Twitter. (I tried to pull our songs from all Amazon-affiliated services, but our distro service makes that difficult to do.) My friends in the Kominas mentioned something about it, and then I noticed Deerhoof interacting with Sadie Dupois of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13, following up on the recent op-ed by Tom Morello and Evan Greer of Fight For The Future (both musicians and activists in their own rights). I knew we were in good company. And I knew it was the right thing to do. I grew up in the punk rock scene, where ideals of inclusivity and the provisions of safe gathering spaces were intrinsic to and even more important than the music itself (in theory, anyway; I'm old enough now to recognize where the lip service of the punk scene also failed in that regard).
Music is expression, and that's a fundamental human right. As such, it's always been a political act, and it's always been a refuge for people and ideas that have been held down. That's just as true now as it ever was. Maybe we can't stop the slow homogenization of music distribution, or stay entirely free of shitty exploitative tech companies if we want to get our music out there (and onto your phones, which are also curated and controlled by shitty exploitative tech companies). But at least we can try to take a stand for inclusivity and safety when it might make a difference.
(Top image via Wikimedia Commons)