Tech companies respond to George Floyd’s death, ensuing protests and systemic racism

On Sunday, a fourth night of protests erupted around the country, spurred on by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. The movement is a response to wide-ranging and systemic inequality that has seen a disproportionate number of black Americans suffer a similar fate, with Floyd’s desperate gasping “I can’t breathe” echoing Eric Garner’s death some six years prior. 

Violence broke out over the weekend, with photos and videos emerging of bloodied protesters, bystanders and journalists tasked with covering the events. It takes a lot for an event to dominate headlines in a country suffering from far and away the world’s largest number of COVID-19 deaths, but wide-scale movements in Minneapolis, New York, DC, LA, Chicago and beyond seem destined to remain top of mind in an already deeply divided nation. 

Tech companies and CEOs have begun to weigh in on what amounts to a rather delicate topic for corporations not accustomed to rocking the boat on these manner of social issues. Tim Cook, who has a history of publicly addressing social issues, said the company draws strength from its diversity. He also told staff that now is the time to listen:

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

The Apple CEO says the company will be making unspecified donations to the Equal Justice Initiative and other nonprofits. It also will be matching two-for-one on all employee donations for June.


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