Slack CEO donates to groups who want to 'defund the police'

Slack CEO donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups who want to ‘defund the police’ – but has his own security robot force roaming the office hallways to protect workers

  • Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and his partner, Away CEO Jen Rubio, pledged to donate money to groups like Black Lives Matter 
  • They said they would give $700,000 and another $300,000 in matching donations days after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis 
  • Butterfield and Rubio pledged to support groups that support ‘defunding the police’ – even as Slack uses robots to patrol company offices
  • Silicon Valley has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars toward supporting Black Lives Matter and other racial justice groups 

Slack’s top executive has donated to Black Lives Matter and other groups urging federal and local governments to ‘defund the police’, while the company uses a private security system that relies on robots patrolling in its offices.

Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, and his partner, Away CEO Jen Rubio, pledged earlier this year to give $700,000 and an additional $300,000 in matching donations to ten different organizations, including Black Lives Matter.

While those organizations are demanding that budgets set aside for police departments be reduced, Slack is using a security system designed by Cobalt Robotics to keep its office space safe.

The Cobalt system was first used by the San Francisco-based office chat company in 2018. The hallways of the company were patrolled overnight by two robots, nicknamed Salt and Peppa.

Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, and his partner, Away CEO Jen Rubio pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Black Lives Matter and other racial justice groups. Butterfield is seen above in San Francisco in November 2019

But while Butterfield is backing groups that want to cut funds to police, his company is using robotic security firm Cobalt to patrol the hallways in its offices. A Cobalt security robot is seen in the above file photo

Butterfield announced the donations days after the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Since protests erupted nationwide in recent months, there have been growing calls among activists to defund the police. A Black Lives Matter rally in Rochester, New  York, is pictured above on Saturday

Last year, the system was expanded.

Cobalt works by having robots patrol the hallways after normal business hours.

If the robot notices anything suspicious, like a flickering light or someone who seems out of place, the robot’s video screen beams images back to a human ‘driver’ at a remote location who would then assess the situation.

‘When Cobalt detects anything that needs escalation or further review – from an unauthorized visitor to CO emissions to a water leak – it triggers a real-time alert in a designated Slack channel… If the event requires further discussion or action, companies can create new temporary channels in a workspace from the alert,’ according to a Cobalt news release from last year.

After an alert is created, ‘onsite security personnel can use the new channel to collaborate with each other and with the Cobalt Specialist Command Center to determine courses of action, including potential new patrol paths or public announcements and broadcasts through the robot.’

Butterfield and Rubio announced their donations in the days following the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A Minneapolis police officer was filmed pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old black man lay helplessly on the pavement, where he was pinned down by three other cops.

Floyd’s death sparked massive unrest nationwide as protesters demanded that elected officials slash police budgets.

Black Lives Matter has publicly come out in support of defunding the police, though it is unclear if that means slashing police budgets or doing away with police altogether.

Tech companies have pledged to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter and other groups that seek to address racial injustice.

Cobalt works by having robots patrol the hallways after normal business hours. If the robot notices anything suspicious, like a flickering light or someone who seems out of place, the robot’s video screen beams images back to a human ‘driver’ at a remote location who would then assess the situation

A Cobalt Robotics security robot is seen above in action in the above file photo

While activists and protesters have demanded that police departments be defunded, other community advocates believe minorities will suffer since there will be fewer cops on the streets to maintain public safety.

Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton says defunding the New York Police Department is something a ‘latte Liberal’ in the Hamptons might support but that proper policing on the ground is necessary. 

Sharpton made the comments during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday amid a wave of rising crime in New York City and a gun violence filled Labor Day weekend. 

He pushed back at recent calls to defund the NYPD and other police departments across the country, saying that policing needed to be re-imagined instead. 

‘To take all policing off is something I think a latte liberal may go for as they sit around the Hamptons discussing this as some academic problem,’ he said. 

‘People living on the ground need proper policing. 

‘Yes, we need more resources in different areas like mental health but we do not need our grandmothers (to be) prey to those that are being the users of products of the big gun manufacturers in this country.’    

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