#JewsAgainstICE Protesters Occupy Amazon Bookstore to Demand Company Cuts Ties With Immigration Agency: 'Learn From History'

Dozens of protesters were arrested at an Amazon bookstore in Manhattan on Sunday after they occupied the shop in a show of solidarity with workers who have called on the technology giant to cut its ties with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Dubbed the #JewsAgainstICE protest, the demonstration was organized by a coalition of Jewish groups seeking to mark Tisha B'Av, a day of mourning and fasting to commemorate atrocities carried out against Jewish people throughout history, by calling attention to the plight of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

According to rights group Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), the New York Police Department took more than 40 protesters into custody, taking a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus out of service to transport demonstrators to a booking station.

Video livestreamed to Facebook by the rights group, however, shows demonstrators rallying inside the Amazon bookshop, before showing NYPD officers walking a number of protesters out of the building and onto an MTA bus as dozens of others continue to demonstrate outside, singing and raising signs in a peaceful protest.

"Learn from history," one sign shared on social media read. "Never again is now," another warned.

"We're outside the Amazon bookstore... [to] shut down Amazon demanding that it end its collaboration with ICE," the person capturing the video states. "Instead of listening to our demands, they called the NYPD."

In a statement posted to Facebook, JFREJ said it decided to hold the rally on Tisha B'Av to "protest Amazon's support for ICE and concentration camps."

"As long as Amazon continues to collaborate with ICE, we will hold the company accountable for every atrocity and every human rights violation ICE carries out," it said.

The protest came alongside another demonstration in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, where more than 250 protesters representing Jewish groups rallied against ICE on Sunday.

Meanwhile, hundreds more were estimated to have protested in more than 60 locations, including at rallies in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston, with a string of groups helping organize the rallies, including Never Again Action, Romemu and others.

The decision to occupy an Amazon shop came as the technology giant and other companies continue to face scrutiny over their contracts with ICE.

For more than a year, Amazon workers and immigration advocates have been calling on the company to stop allowing Amazon Web Services to be used to host databases allowing the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies, including ICE, to track and detain immigrants.

Amazon employees have also called on their employer to stop working with Palantir, the embattled data analysis firm that provides the software used by immigration officials to track immigrants.

Mijente, an activist group that has long been at the forefront of calling on both Amazon and Palantir to cut ties with ICE, has accused both companies of having "secured a role as the backbone for the federal government's immigration and law enforcement dragnet."

On its website, Mijente calls on consumers to stop holding Amazon responsible for its role in "powering ICE," asserting that while the technology behemoth "isn't the only tech company doing this...it has the largest role."

"It's time to hold Amazon accountable for its outsized share in building the deportation machine, and demand that they stop," Mijente says.

"It won't be easy—Amazon makes billions from these contracts," it notes. "But the company also depends on consumers—including millions of Latinx people—and has to worry about protecting its brand."

"We can force Amazon to stop helping DHS and ICE target immigrants, if enough of us call them out, stay engaged, and keep the pressure on," the group states.

Newsweek has contacted Amazon, the NYPD and protest organizers for comment for this article.

ICE Protest outside Amazon
Protestors march to an Amazon store on July 15, 2019 in New York City to rally against the company's contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Demonstrators rallied outside Amazon Books on August 11, 2019 demanding to know why the technology giant has still refused to cut ties with ICE. Kevin Hagen/Getty
#JewsAgainstICE Protesters Occupy Amazon Bookstore to Demand Company Cuts Ties With Immigration Agency: 'Learn From History' | U.S.