Microsoft employees call for company to cancel its police contracts

ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Microsoft logo on the Microsoft France campus, which inaugurates the IA Microsoft School, on March 6, 2018 in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. The American IT multinational opens its artificial intelligence school in partnership with start-up Simplon.co, and welcomes its first promotion of 24 people aged 19 to 39. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Microsoft logo on the Microsoft France campus, which inaugurates the IA Microsoft School, on March 6, 2018 in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France. The American IT multinational opens its artificial intelligence school in partnership with start-up Simplon.co, and welcomes its first promotion of 24 people aged 19 to 39. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
Taylor Hatmaker

In a new letter addressed to executive leadership, a group of Microsoft employees is demanding that the Seattle-area company end its existing law enforcement contracts.

As reported by OneZero, the letter, sent via email, emerged out of a Facebook group for young employees at the company. It addresses Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene directly and was copied to 250 supporters. In the past, Microsoft employees have organized other kinds of activism through the same Facebook group, which now has almost 10,000 members.

Among the demands, the email calls for the company to pull its contracts with law enforcement agencies, support the "defunding and demilitarization" of the Seattle Police Department and throw its support behind Black Lives Matter Seattle. The letter also requests that managers at the company relax productivity expectations and implement a four-day work week amid the dual crises of COVID-19 and ongoing civil unrest protesting the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis.

The letter cites a number of local instances of police brutality and calls for "coworkers, managers, and leaders who live miles away outside of Seattle" to bridge the gap, connecting to the state-sanctioned violence unfolding in Seattle's urban center, including "24/7 helicopter noise, teargassing, flashbanging, rubber bullets, gun shots, and vans/buses filled with armed law enforcement."

"We need awareness and empathy across every level of management asap so that the burden of educating our coworkers doesn’t fall on those of us in the middle of a public safety and mental health crisis," the authors urge.

Last week, Nadella outlined the company's planned response to ongoing racial injustice in an email to employees, noting that the company would "look inside, examine our organization, and do better." In the letter, Nadella committed to $1.5 million in additional donations to six racial justice and policing reform initiatives, including the Minnesota Freedom Fund, the Black Lives Matter Foundation and the Innocence Project.

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