- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2020

Big Tech is ponying up big bucks to Black Lives Matter and social justice advocates to keep the protests away from their business.

Among the tech titans sending cash to Black Lives Matter and black advocacy groups are Amazon, which pledged $10 million; Apple, which promised to match two-to-one all employee donations in June; Facebook, which also pledged $10 million; and Google, which has pledged $12 million.

“The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black and African Americans is unacceptable,” Amazon said in a statement about the donations it was making. “We believe Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and partners, and are committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear.”

Amazon pulled out drivers in Chicago and Los Angeles because of looting and changed drivers’ routes to help them avoid becoming targets of rioters.

The mega online retailer also sought to make things right by divvying up $10 million among a dozen groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the National Urban League.

After Apple’s store in Washington’s affluent Georgetown neighborhood was looted, the company boarded up the windows of its nearby store in Northern Virginia and covered up the store’s Apple logo for fear of it becoming a target.

Apple then pledged to match two-to-one all employee donations in June, according to an internal memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook obtained by CNBC.

“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,” Mr. Cook wrote in the memo obtained by CNBC. “As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege.”

He pledged to send money to the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative and said people should not hope that things ever return to the normal that existed before coronavirus shutdowns and riots spread nationwide.

While Apple and Amazon have struggled with threats against their stores and delivery trucks respectively, the protests hit a little closer to home at Facebook.

A crowd of 150 protesters marched with a vehicle caravan toward Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto residence during recent anti-police demonstrations, according to multiple reports.

The protesters stayed briefly before moving on, and Facebook declined to comment on the protest and whether any damage was done.

Mr. Zuckerberg posted on Facebook in late May that he was working with civil rights advisers and employees to best allocate the $10 million to organizations that need it.

“I know that $10 million can’t fix this,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “It needs sustained, long-term effort.”

To help avoid the problems its competitors faced, Google anted up $12 million to organizations it says are working to address racial inequities. Google CEO Sundar Pichai also encouraged his company’s employees to join a livestreamed moment of silence last week for George Floyd, black man killed while being arrested by police in Minnesota.

In a memo published on the company’s website, Mr. Pichai wrote that the first allocations of the $12 million sum would involve $1 million grants each to the Center for Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative. He emphasized that the company paid $32 million in the last five years to ‘racial justice’ via ‘Ad Grants.’

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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