More than 70 immigration policy protesters were arrested in New York on Saturday afternoon during a sit-in outside a Microsoft store. The demonstrators were protesting the software maker’s business relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Close the Camps NYC, the group that organized the protest, said hundreds of people participated in the sit-in to demand that Microsoft stop allowing ICE to use its technology in its “racist campaign against immigrants and legal asylum seekers.”
“By knowingly and willingly providing technology support to ICE, Microsoft Corporation is colluding with ICE and its racist mission to tear apart families, and mistreat children” Andy Ratto, an organizer with Close the Camps, said in a statement. “This is a moment of life-or-death for 11 million undocumented people in the United States, and we will not remain silent as Amercian corporations profitteer from ― and enable ― human suffering.”
A New York City Police Department spokesman confirmed to CNN that 76 protesters were arrested for blocking traffic near Microsoft’s Fifth Avenue store.
Microsoft told the network in a statement that it was “grateful to the NYPD for their help with protestors” and said it had shuttered the store’s doors “for the rest of the day.”
Microsoft’s multimillion-dollar contracts with ICE have come under scrutiny in the past.
Last year, more than 100 of the company’s own employees signed a letter urging the tech giant to stop working with the agency.
In response, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told employees that the company was “not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border.”
“Our current cloud engagement with [ICE] is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads,” Nadella said, adding that Microsoft was a company that would “always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person’s dignity and human rights.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said Microsoft workers were concerned last year with ICE’s family separation tactics. That policy was carried out by the Border Patrol and Department of Justice, not ICE.