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Seattle area corporations respond to protests over police brutality with messages of solidarity, but few specifics

Katherine Khashimova Long, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

The company's board of directors recommended a vote against the proposal, citing its own oversight and several steps taken "to review and address concerns around potential misuse of our technologies." The proposal ultimately failed; vote tallies have not yet been disclosed. Amazon has also called for regulation of facial recognition technology.

Amazon did not reply to questions about what the company was doing to "stand in solidarity with the Black community."

Nationally, major corporations including Twitter, Netflix, Nike and Citigroup have publicly allied themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement, a loose coalition of community groups opposing violence against Black Americans by police and armed civilians. The movement grew out of demonstrations in 2013 and 2014 after the killing of Black teens Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

At that time, and in the following years of routine acts of violence against Black Americans, corporations were silent.

Not so now.

Historian Margaret O'Mara, who studies the tech industry at the University of Washington, said she sees the corporate response to Floyd's death "as a departure. We haven't ever had this demand for a corporate response and this idea that silence is violence."

 

In Seattle, corporations including Nordstrom and REI began tweeting with the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to show their support for the movement's goals.

Still, the carefully couched corporate communiques from Seattle-based brands have tended to remain one step distant from the heart of the issues activating protesters.

Within the flurry of carefully worded news releases, tweets and blog posts, few specifically denounced the actions of law enforcement in Floyd's death.

Starbucks held an online forum for employees centered around issues of race and protest; 2,000 of the company's nearly 200,000 U.S. employees participated, according to a blog post.

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