A video posted to Twitter today by The Washington Examiner shows protesters constructing a guillotine outside the Washington, D.C. home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 27, 2020
What could have earned such ire?
The most recent protests are decrying the mistreatment of warehouse workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but previous protests this summer have been wrapped up in other agendas as well.
In several demonstrations outside Bezos’ home over the course of the summer, protesters have advocated for the complete abolition of police, prisons, and Amazon, and have accused the company of selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement.
A flyer promoting a protest back in June (a protest which also included the construction of a guillotine) read in part that “Amazon works directly with police to surveil us, stoking racist fears in the name of profit.”
This isn’t the first time a guillotine has been displayed in these demonstrations. At a protest in June, a guillotine was constructed and adorned with a sign that read, “Support our poor communities, not our wealthy men.”
Amazon was founded by Bezos in the garage of his Bellevue, Washington home in 1994. Today, Amazon boasts over 800,000 employees. Bezos is currently the richest man in the world, with a worth of $148.4 billion.
This week’s protests – and upcoming protests in the near future – have been organized by The Congress of Essential Workers, a coalition of essential workers who formed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to fight for “better working conditions, better wages, and a better world.”
The collective was founded by a former Amazon warehouse manager, Chris Smalls, who was fired and then staged a walkout in March in protest of the conditions of the workplace.
Smalls argues that Amazon was not protecting its workers sufficiently from the coronavirus, while Amazon says Smalls was fired for “violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk.”
The home page of Smalls’ website for The Congress of Essential Workers attacks capitalism directly for the woes of the working class: “The capitalist economy of the US is built off the backs of a class of underpaid people who are degraded to wage laborers and valued only for what they produce…”