More than 2,000 Google employees in offices around the world staged a walkout on Monday afternoon in protest of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration in seven Muslim-majority countries. Using the hashtag #GooglersUnite, employees tweeted photos and videos of walkout actions around the world, including at headquarters in Mountain View, California.
The protest came after employees donated more than $2 million to a crisis fund that will be distributed among nonprofit groups working to support refugees. Google match employees’ donation with $2 million. "This was in direct response to the immigration action," Enzam Hossain, an employee on the Mountain View campus, told The Verge. "We wanted to be a part of it, and support our colleagues who are facing it."
Googlers Enzam Hossain, left, and Bickey Russell (Lauren Goode / The Verge)
Both Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai spoke to employees at Mountain View. "The fight will continue," Pichai said, according to a New York Times reporter who was on the scene. Brin told employees "it's a debate about fundamental values," according to the reporter, Daisuke Wakabayashi.
The protest was organized by employees but supported by Google, sources said. Employees began organizing during the last few days using internal listservs, employees told The Verge.
Google CEO sundar pichai at rally at Googleplex "the fight will continue" pic.twitter.com/cZOfn9FiGY— Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) January 30, 2017
"It's a debate about fundamental values" sergey brin, Google co-founder and refugee pic.twitter.com/JDBXL77xuY— Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) January 30, 2017
A source close to the protest said the keynote speaker in Mountain View was Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who has lived in the United States for 15 years. Esmaeilzadeh, who works as a product manager on Google Assistant, traveled from San Francisco to Zurich as President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries went into effect.
Soufi Esmaeilzadeh (Google)
Esmaeilzadeh contacted Google's immigration support team to ask whether she should end her trip early, the source said. She was told to wait in Zurich while the team sorted out the legal situation, out of fear that she would be deported if she attempted to return to the United States.
Then a federal judge granted a stay preventing Trump's immigration order from being implemented. Google then coordinated Esmaeilzadeh's return flight, routing her through Dublin and Boston. She returned home yesterday.
Lauren Goode contributed to this article.