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200-Plus Musicians Pledge to Boycott Amazon Festivals Over the Company's ICE Ties

Speedy Ortiz
Shervin Lainez

Speedy Ortiz

The pledge has been signed by Deerhoof, Speedy Ortiz, Downtown Boys, Hurray For the Riff Raff and more.

More than 200 artists have signed an open letter stating that they plan to boycott festivals associated with Amazon over the company’s contracts with government agency U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The campaign, No Music for ICE, was launched on Oct. 23 and has secured pledges from Speedy Ortiz, Deerhoof, Priests, Downtown Boys, Jeff Rosenstock and more.

“We the undersigned artists are outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses,” wrote the artists, in a letter posted Thursday at NoMusicForICE.com.

The letter calls for a boycott of Amazon until the company terminates existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses; stops providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government's deportation machine; ends projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon's facial recognition product; and rejects future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.

“We will not allow Amazon to exploit our creativity to promote its brand while it enables attacks on immigrants, communities of color, workers, and local economies,” the letter continued. “We call on all artists who believe in basic rights and human dignity to join us.”

The campaign was launched in response to Amazon Web Services upcoming event in Las Vegas called Interect Fest. Intersect Fest will take place from Dec. 6-7 on the Strip with scheduled performances from  Foo FightersBrandi CarlileBeckAnderson .PaakH.E.R. and more. The festival that grew out of an AWS re:Invent conference afterparty will also feature a 500-drone show with Kacey Musgraves in partnership with Intel.

No artists who are currently scheduled to perform at Intersect Fest have signed the petition. However, The Black Madonna was booked to play Intersect Fest, but removed herself from the lineup on Monday stating in a social media post that she was previously unaware that the event was associated with Amazon.

“The issue is not just ideological for me, it is a moral and ethical transgression against my work, my faith and most importantly the people I stand with,” The Black Madonna wrote in a post.

Billboard reached out to representatives for Intersect Fest, but have not heard back.

“My music peers’ collective outrage at the announcement of Amazon’s Intersect festival made several of us realize how desperately we need to formalize our concerns,” said Sadie Dupuis of the bands Speedy Ortiz and Sad13 in a release. “Cartoonists Against Amazon, No Tech for ICE, Whole Worker, and other groups against Amazon’s partnership with Palantir and support of ICE have set tremendous examples, showing solidarity with those most impacted by invasive technologies. They’ve demonstrated how powerful it can be to take a hard stance against accepting money earned on the suffering of others. Navigating the ethics of the music industry can be tricky, but it shouldn’t be tricky to say no to opportunities that are complicit with ICE. Doing so would be antithetical to many of our missions as artists, and it’s time to say we won’t.”

Greg Saunier of the band Deerhoof added in the release, “One would think that shame would be enough. One would think that providing AI and facial recognition technology to military and law enforcement, during a time of mass deportations, crackdowns on popular protests, and flagrant incidents of police brutality would give one pause. But that's not the way Amazon works. As Teresa Carlson, vice president of the worldwide public sector of Amazon Web Services, explains Amazon's priorities during this era of what many are calling a neo-fascist takeover of several world governments including our own, ‘We are committed to our customer, and we are unwaveringly committed to the U.S. government and the governments we work with around the world.’ We musicians are therefore organizing something more than shame. A boycott!”

The letter was organized by an ad-hoc group of artists and activists including Sadie Dupuis, Evan Greer, Adult Mom, Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, @k8_or_die, Carmen Perry and Jes Skolnik.

Head here to read the full letter and see a complete list of artists who have signed.  


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