Amazon beefs up security to prevent Project Nimbus protests

Amazon appears to have significantly beefed up security for its Amazon Web Services Summit in New York on Wednesday, two weeks after a number of Activists vandalize AWS Summit in Washington, DC to protest Amazon and Google’s Project Nimbus $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The crackdown in New York put a stop to plans by some activists to interrupt a keynote speech by Matt Wood, vice president of AI products at AWS.

Amazon only allowed approved individuals to attend the keynote. Activists who registered online to attend received emails before the conference informing them that they would not be allowed to attend the keynote due to insufficient space.

In addition, there was a heavy presence of private security guards and officers from the New York Police Department and the New York State Police at the conference. Despite being barred from attending the keynote speech, activists entered the building, where security confiscated posters and flyers during bag searches, which not all attendees were subjected to.

Amazon said before that the company respects “the right of employees to express their views freely without fear of retaliation, intimidation, or harassment,” in reference to the Project Nimbus protests. But the increased security suggests the company is taking steps to prevent further dissent. For its part, Google has fired 50 employees after a high profile April protests about the company’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli government.

The activists behind the planned keynote disruption were organizers of No Tech for Apartheid (NOTA), a coalition of tech workers, organizers with the Muslim grassroots group MPower Change, and members of the anti-Zionist Jewish group Jewish Voices for Peace. (NOTA was founded in 2021 shortly after News about Project Nimbus has gone public.) The group planned the Google sit-in and other protests recent action aimed at Project Nimbus.

Those who attempted to interrupt Wood’s keynote speech included Zelda Montesa former YouTube software engineer, and Hasan Ibraheem, a former Google software engineer. Both were among 50 Google employees laid off in the spring. Jamie Kowalski, a former Amazon software engineer who worked at the company for six years, Ferras Hamad, a former Meta employee, were was recently fired after raising concerns about anti-Palestinian censorship.and another technician, whose name was not disclosed, also planned to protest.

Five other NOTA activists stood just outside the AWS Summit, behind barricades, handing out informational flyers. They held large banners that read “Google and Amazon Workers Say: Drop Nimbus, End the Occupation, No Tech for Apartheid” and “Genocide Powered by AWS” over an image of a Gaza neighborhood flattened to rubble.

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Photo: Caroline Haskins


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