Protesters blocked Palantir's cafeteria to pressure the $20 billion big data company to drop its contracts with ICE

Palantir protest

  • On Friday, about 70 people participated at a protest
    near Palantir‘s
    cafeteria to protest the company’s contracts with Immigration and
    Customs Enforcement
    .
  • Palantir reportedly sells software to ICE to build
    profiles and plan workplace raids of undocumented
    immigrants.
  • Activists say this protest is timely because Palantir
    is rumored to go public early next year, and they invited Palantir
    employees to take a stand.
  • This protest is part of a seven-week campaign to push
    Palantir to drop its contracts with ICE.
  • Visit Business
    Insider’s homepage for more stories
    .

Protesters blocked the entrance to Silicon Valley tech company
Palantir’s cafeteria on Friday, denouncing its work aiding the US
government’s immigration crackdown and urging employees to speak
out. 

About 70 protesters swarmed Palantir’s Palo Alto, Calif.
headquarters in the early afternoon, bearing signs criticizing the
company for doing business with the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency and chanting slogans.

“Immigrants are welcome here, time to cancel Palantir,” the
protesters shouted. “Dirty data company, drop ICE contracts, that’s
our plea,” they sang. 


Palantir
, a big data company that’s one of the
most valuable startups
in the US, is facing backlash for its
ties with ICE. It provides software to ICE which critics say is
being used to store and sift through troves of data on undocumented
immigrants. 

The Latino advocacy group Mijente
reported
that ICE agents used Palantir’s software to build
profiles of undocumented children and family members that could be
used for prosecution and arrest.
WNYC also reported
that ICE agents used a Palantir program
called FALCON mobile to plan workplace raids earlier this
year. 

The protests at Palantir come as tech companies including
Google and
Amazon have
been rocked by a wave of employee protests against the companies’
work with the US military and border security agencies. 

There were few signs of Palantir employees near Friday’s protest
however. The cafeteria appeared mostly empty, and there were no
visible efforts made by the company to break up the rally. Palantir
did not respond to a request for comment on the protests. 

A coalition of migrant rights and activist groups calling itself
the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps Bay Area organized
Friday’s protest. The goal is to put pressure on Palantir to drop
its contracts with ICE, said the coalition’s Liza
Mamedov-Turchinsky. 

Palantir protests

The detainment camps that undocumented immigrants have been held
in have been compared to
concentration camps
by
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
as well as by activists. People
in these camps have faced conditions like
overcrowding
, psychological abuse, and low food and water.

“We don’t have concentration camps in the Bay Area, but we do
have Palantir, and Palantir is the tech backbone for CBP and ICE
both in terms of writing the software for raids and providing the
state surveillance,” Mamedov-Turchinsky told Business
Insider. 

With an expected IPO, “We hope it’s something investors take note
of'”

Palantir was cofounded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, an
outspoken supporter of President Trump. In recent weeks, Thiel and
Joe Lonsdale, another Palantir cofounder, have accused companies
like Google of being “unpatriotic,” for not working with the US
military.

“Palantir is probably the most patriotic company in the Valley.
It’s done amazing work for the US government,”
Lonsdale said in an interview on CNBC in July.

Palantir has been valued at $20 billion by private investors and
is rumored
to be preparing to sell shares to the public in an IPO
sometime
in the next year, something the activists seem well aware of. 

“Given that it talks about going public, we hope it’s something
that investors take note of,” Jacinta Gonzalez Goodman, the field
director for Mijente told Business Insider. 

Palantir protests

The rally included support from more than 20 activist groups,
and many participants were residents of Santa Clara County, where
Palantir’s headquarters are located.

“It’s immigrants today, and could be any group tomorrow”

Several protesters spoke about their own experiences having
family members deported or having ancestors killed during the
Holocaust as a motivation for why they were involved. 

“Forty to fifty years ago, that could’ve been my family stopped
at the border,” Cristina Muñoz of the Tech Workers Coalition told
Business Insider. “This is not an issue that you can possibly sit
on the sidelines. It’s our moral imperative to stop deportations
and the tearing apart of families.”

Besides Palantir’s work with ICE, speakers also condemned
Palantir’s work with the military and its technology enabling
“predictive policing,” and accused the company’s technology of
violating people’s privacy.

“I’m concerned about the wholesale sweeping of data,” Tracy
Rosenberg of Oakland Privacy told Business Insider. “Palantir is
making possible the collecting of multiple categories of data
without any ethical boundaries. It’s a privacy nightmare. It’s
immigrants today, and could be any group tomorrow.”

Palantir protest

Seven weeks of action

The coalition plans to continue to protest at
Palantir
every week as part of a seven-week campaign until
September 25. This campaign involves actions every week, from
social media campaigns to rallies. Activists also spent a week
handing out flyers in front of Palantir’s office and at local
events, urging employees to discuss their company’s business with
ICE.

“It was just to start conversations about how their technology
affects our communities and what they can do to stop it,”
Mamedov-Turchinsky said. “We believe every worker has power. The
flyers we’re distributing offers an avenue for them to talk to
their management.”

Read more:
Here’s what you need to know about Palantir, the secretive $20
billion data-analysis company whose work with ICE is dragging
Amazon into controversy

Palantir protests

The coalition also previously held a protest on July 12, where
about 600 people protested at Palantir’s Palo Alto headquarters,
Mamedov-Turchinsky says. 

Mamedov-Turchinsky says the Coalition invites Palantir employees
to join its cause.

“Right now we’re just trying to extend an open invite to anyone
work works at Palantir to work with us and work with their
management,” Mamedov-Turchinsky said. “No one has to stay complicit
especially as more people continue to die.”

Do you work at Palantir? Got a tip? Contact
this reporter via email at rmchan@businessinsider.com,
Telegram at @rosaliechan, Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17, or Signal
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.

SEE ALSO: NPM,
a startup 11 million developers rely on, is tangled in a bitter
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Protesters blocked Palantir's cafeteria to pressure the billion big data company to drop its contracts with ICE