Slack CEO backs 'defund the police' groups as company uses security robots

Robots programmed to report to human security personnel began patrolling Slack offices in 2018

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and his partner, Away CEO Jen Rubio, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaigns calling to defund the police.

At the same time, the business communication platform has used a robotic security system from Cobalt Robotics Inc. that is programmed to report to human security personnel if things go awry, as The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported.

Cobalt's robots first began patrolling Slack offices in 2018, Quartz reported, and the security firm expanded its integration with Slack's platform last year "to keep employees alert, safe and secure in times of emergency," according to a press release at the time.

"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," the release states.

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Once an alert is created through Slack, "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," according to the release.

Butterfield and Rubio on May 31 committed to donating $700,000 and matching up to $300,000 in donations to Black Lives Matter, Color of Change and a number of other civil rights advocacy groups over the summer as corporate America responded to the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Floyd died in police custody after a Minneapolis officer held him to the ground and kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests and calls to defund the police.

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The national Black Lives Matter group supported by Butterfield and Rubio has a petition on its website to defund the police.

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"We call for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive. If you're with us, add your name to the petition right now and help us spread the word," the petition states.

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Another July 6 blog post on BLM's website states that police "don't keep us safe – and as long as we continue to pump money into our corrupt criminal justice system at the expense of housing, health and education investments – we will never be truly safe."

Color of Change has a similar petition on its website calling to defund the police.

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"We know that policing doesn't keep us safe, communities do," the petition states. "Policing doesn't lead to thriving communities, investment does. Communities are in desperate need of the things that keep us safe, housed and healthy ... But time and again, police budgets are bloated at the expense of our safety."

Arirbnb, 23andme, Stitch Fix, Tinder, Ubisoft, Cisco, Drizly and The Wing also donated to BLM or Color of Change, according to tech news website Protocol.

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