Apple CEO Tim Cook in a memo to employees on Sunday addressed the killing of George Floyd, an incident that touched off protests and, in some areas riots, in the U.S. and beyond.
On Friday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during his arrest. A subsequent video, captured by a second bystander, shows three additional officers holding down the unarmed and handcuffed Floyd. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was declared dead.
All four officers involved in the altercation were fired and Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.
Floyd's killing sparked protests and rioting in several major U.S. cities.
In response to the ongoing unrest, Cook in his memo called out America's "history of racism," saying, "That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination."
The CEO recognized the fear some employees have voiced and acknowledged racial injustice in the U.S., noting Apple has "always drawn strength" from diversity to create a company that is "inclusive of everyone."
Saying "we must do more," Cook promised donations to various groups including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit focusing on issues of racial injustice, mass incarceration and human rights for "the most vulnerable people in American society." The company is also matching two-for-one all employee donations during the month of June.
Cook's full memo:
Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.
That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive. While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied.
We've seen progress since the America I grew up in, but it is similarly true that communities of color continue to endure discrimination and trauma.
I have heard from so many of you that you feel afraid — afraid in your communities, afraid in your daily lives, and, most cruelly of all, afraid in your own skin. We can have no society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor and life.
At Apple, our mission has and always will be to create technology that empowers people to change the world for the better. We've always drawn strength from our diversity, welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world, and strived to build an Apple that is inclusive of everyone.
But together, we must do more. Today, Apple is making donations to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit committed to challenging racial injustice, ending mass incarceration, and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable people in American society. For the month of June, and in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, we'll also be matching two-for-one all employee donations via Benevity.
To create change, we have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored. Issues of human dignity will not abide standing on the sidelines. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued here at Apple.
For all of our colleagues hurting right now, please know that you are not alone, and that we have resources to support you. It's more important than ever to talk to one another, and to find healing in our common humanity. We also have free resources that can help, including our Employee Assistance Program and mental health resources you can learn about on the People site.
This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd's death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a "normal" future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.
In the words of Martin Luther King, "Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change."
With every breath we take, we must commit to being that change, and to creating a better, more just world for everyone.