Culture

Protesters built a guillotine outside Jeff Bezos’ D.C. home

“Give a good reason why we don't deserve a $30 minimum wage when this man makes $4,000 a second.”

Chris Smalls, protest organizer and former Amazon employee

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On Thursday, The Washinton Examiner reported on a protest that formed outside of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ home. About 100 people, led by former Amazon employee Chris Smalls, showed up to demand a $30 minimum wage for Amazon workers. To get their point across, demonstrators built a guillotine outside the sprawling home, evoking French Revolution imagery.

Turns out guillotines weren’t just a quarantine meme — Many have joked that the U.S.’s stimulus checks for $1,200 are the perfect amount needed to build a homemade guillotine, but someone is taking that advice seriously. Notably, Smalls, a Black man, is not documented constructing the guillotine. A couple of demonstrators are seen building the execution weapon, most well-known for beheading French nobility who lived in excessive luxury at the expense of starving French citizenry.

Rage against the machine — Smalls is no stranger to churning against Amazon’s policies; he was fired for protesting the lack of coronavirus safety conditions at an Amazon warehouse earlier this year. Though Amazon tried to pin the decision on his alleged unwillingness to self-quarantine, it was caught with a leaked memo stating that an example needed to made of Smalls, and it couldn’t help itself from firing two more outspoken employees shortly after.

Asking for a $30 minimum wage is hardly an unreasonable ask at one of the richest companies in the world, especially one with such dangerous work environments. But Amazon can’t even make good on its own promises for sick leave and the fast-paced warehouses aren’t the only parts of the company with skeletons in the closet.

The protest was sparked by recent reports that Bezos is now worth $200 billion. His D.C. home, a museum it cost him $35 million to buy and renovate, is the perfect, opulent place to spark protests. Throughout the home’s redesign, he also forked over $16,000 in parking tickets so that contractors could park outside.

"Hey, Jeff Bezos. I'm going to let you know something today: We are just getting started," Smalls said outside the home. "We're going to go to every single location you've got across the country and set up shop until you meet our demands as workers."