Monday, 5 October 2020

Protesters march outside Jeff Bezos' $165million Beverly Hills mansion to demand the Amazon billionaire pay more taxes and take responsibility for the 20,000 workers who have tested positive for COVID

 Protesters marched to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' palatial Beverly Hills mansion to demand the company address environmental and labor issues that came to a head during the pandemic.   

Saturday saw a coalition of labor and environmental activists gathered at Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard to decry Bezos and his multi-billion dollar e-commerce empire during 'The Wrong Amazon is Burning' event.

The Congress and Essential Workers, a group of current and former Amazon warehouse employees, organized the rally and it was spearheaded by Chris Smalls of Staten Island, New York.  

Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse staffer, was fired from his position in March after he organized a protest over what he described as a lack of PPE and hazard pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

'We demand that Jeff Bezos and the rest of the billionaire class pay their fair share to deal with the climate crisis,' TCOEW said in a statement, per Patch

'We are calling for a decent living wage of $30/hour minimum for all Amazon employees, Medicare and childcare for all, and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation. These are just a few of the issues that we feel billionaires like Jeff Bezos, who makes nearly $4,000 a second, can absolutely help relieve or resolve.' 

Hundreds of protesters fighting for labor rights and environmental reform at Amazon  marched to CEO Jeff Bezos' $165million mansion in Beverly Hills, California

Hundreds of protesters fighting for labor rights and environmental reform at Amazon  marched to CEO Jeff Bezos' $165million mansion in Beverly Hills, California 

Some of the demonstrators at 'The Wrong Amazon is Burning' rally were there in support of Amazon making environmental reforms to its business practices

Some of the demonstrators at 'The Wrong Amazon is Burning' rally were there in support of Amazon making environmental reforms to its business practices 

Pictured: A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest prior to a march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion to lobby for higher wages, the right to unionize and a series of reforms in the way the giant company handles the COVID-19 crisis

Pictured: A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest prior to a march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion to lobby for higher wages, the right to unionize and a series of reforms in the way the giant company handles the COVID-19 crisis

A member of Red Rebel Brigade Manifesto performs during a protest prior to a march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion in Beverly Hills

A member of Red Rebel Brigade Manifesto performs during a protest prior to a march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion in Beverly Hills


The crowd of demonstrators who shouted 'f*** Bezos,' who's worth $185billion, were joined by climate activist groups Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion.  

Demonstrators who donned face masks hoisted signs that read 'f*** Bezos,' 'your greed is killing us,' 'abolish billionaires' and 'share with your country!' 

Other signs urged Bezos to consider environmental changes, including one that said 'there is no planet B' and 'science not silence.'

At one point, members of the artivist troupe, Red Rebel Brigade Manifesto, wore red ensembles during a performative piece aimed at highlighting the global environmental crisis.

As the group of determined protesters drew near Bezos' mansion, they chanted 'tax Bezos' while someone played the drums. 

The group of protesters gathered outside of Jeff Bezos' $165million mansion in Beverly Hills with signs reading 'f*** Bezos' and a banner calling for more stringent taxes on the billionaire

The group of protesters gathered outside of Jeff Bezos' $165million mansion in Beverly Hills with signs reading 'f*** Bezos' and a banner calling for more stringent taxes on the billionaire

Demonstrators who donned face masks hoisted signs that read 'f*** Bezos,' 'your greed is killing us,' 'abolish billionaires' and 'share with your country!'

Demonstrators who donned face masks hoisted signs that read 'f*** Bezos,' 'your greed is killing us,' 'abolish billionaires' and 'share with your country!'

Demonstrators march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion to lobby for higher wages, the right to unionize and a series of reforms in the way the giant company handles the COVID-19 crisis

Demonstrators march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion to lobby for higher wages, the right to unionize and a series of reforms in the way the giant company handles the COVID-19 crisis

Chris Smalls, pictured in front of Bezos' mansion: 'Destroying small businesses, destroying working class people, destroying lower class people. Enough is enough'

Chris Smalls, pictured in front of Bezos' mansion: 'Destroying small businesses, destroying working class people, destroying lower class people. Enough is enough'

Once the group arrived to Bezos' grand front gate, Smalls used a bullhorn to rally the crowd and declared 'enough is enough.'

'Destroying small businesses, destroying working class people, destroying lower class people. Enough is enough,' Smalls said. 'We're tired, we're done, and I want to say this...f*** Jeff Bezos!' 

After Smalls' dismissal, Amazon officials said he was fired for 'violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk.'

But Smalls asserted that it was retaliation for organizing a workers protest. 

In the memo obtained by Vice News, top Amazon executives planned to smear 31-year-old Smalls, a management assistant, after he spearheaded a walkout of several employees on March 30 over coronavirus safety fears.

The top bosses referred to Smalls as 'not smart' and discussed placing him as the face of the workers' walkout.

'He's not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we're trying to protect workers,' wrote Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky.

Pictured: Jeff Bezos of Amazon

Pictured: Jeff Bezos' mansion in Beverly Hills

Jeff Bezos (left) owns a $165million mansion in Beverly Hills (right), which sits behind a large gate in an affluent part of the city 

Sunday's protest comes after Amazon revealed nearly 20,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and ahead of the company's annual Prime Day

Sunday's protest comes after Amazon revealed nearly 20,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and ahead of the company's annual Prime Day

In the memo, which took place at a day meeting and included CEO Jeff Bezos, Zapolsky's notes reportedly show executives mapping how to navigate bad press of Smalls' firing.

They allegedly wanted to make Smalls the center of Amazon's narrative about worker safety.

Zapolsky wrote: 'We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer's conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety.

'Make him the most interesting part of the story, and if possible make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.'

The memo allegedly showed executives considering using Smalls to discredit the company's labor movement.

Pictured: A promotional flyer for 'The Wrong Amazon is Burning' event held on Sunday

Pictured: A promotional flyer for 'The Wrong Amazon is Burning' event held on Sunday

Members of the artivist troupe, Red Rebel Brigade Manifesto, wore red ensembles during a performative piece aimed at highlighting the global environmental crisis

Members of the artivist troupe, Red Rebel Brigade Manifesto, wore red ensembles during a performative piece aimed at highlighting the global environmental crisis

Signs are set up at Will Rogers Memorial park in Beverly Hills prior to a demonstration against Amazon on Sunday as people demand Jeff Bezos make labor and environmental reforms

Signs are set up at Will Rogers Memorial park in Beverly Hills prior to a demonstration against Amazon on Sunday as people demand Jeff Bezos make labor and environmental reforms 

Sunday's protest came after the recent revelation that nearly 20,000 Amazon workers in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, per a blog post. And ahead of Amazon's annual Prime Day, in which the company offers discounted sales and lowered prices on various items. 

'Employees are not going to be treated fairly and going to have mandatory overtime and have no breaks for the next two months into December,' said Jordan Flowers, an Amazon warehouse worker from Staten Island, per CNet.

Although Prime Day has been used to highlight consumer perks, it's often a hectic time for warehouse employees who've complained of the overwhelming workload.

Prime Day protest have previously been held in places like New York City, Seattle and across Europe.

'Cancel your Prime memberships, order less on Prime Day week and give us time to be prepared because peak season is hectic,' said Flowers, in reference to the holiday season.

'We're doing 50 or 60 hours a week with one or two days off.'

In addition to the protest, TCOEW released a media statement that outlined a number of demands from the group.      

'Amazon must be transparent and honest about the number of cases they have in their facilities,' one demand said.  

Other requests included securing a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase and paid leave until test results are confirmed.

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