EAST PALO ALTO—People gathered around Amazon’s future office in East Palo Alto on Friday, March 31 staging a protest against the company for not hiring from within the local community. Amazon plans to build a 200,000 square foot office and is looking to fill 1300 positions at their new location. Protestors believe that the city council put aside their ‘locals first’ hiring policy, which requires companies to hire 30 percent of staff from within the community.
Accusing Amazon of gentrification, the protestors voiced their concern about displacement of local people earning low income and with a high cost of living. Protestors held up signs that read: “Amazon don’t ship us away” and “We want jobs.” They argued the intent of the protest was to draw the company’s attention to the negative impact ‘outside hiring’ could have on the local community.
City Manager Carlos Martinez responded to the protests citing that such policies only work for retail jobs. NBC Bay Area reported that jobs at Amazon require high tech know-how and only 16 percent of the local population have the college education needed to fill those.
The protest was organized by the group Real Community Coalition, who also targeted Facebook, accusing the social media outlet of attempting gentrification. According to sources, Facebook plans to contribute over $9 million in an effort to help East Palo Alto Police expand their services. Event organizer JT Faraji fears that the private funding of East Palo Alto Police could lead to unjust arrests and racial profiling.
East Palo Alto Police denied the allegation of racial profiling, calling them as “simply not true.”