Comcast's #TechHasNoWalls protest rallies hundreds in Center City - Technical.ly Philly

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Feb. 2, 2017 3:44 pm

Comcast’s #TechHasNoWalls protest rallies hundreds in Center City

The protest, organized in one day over Comcast's Technology and Product team Slack, was echoed in places like D.C., New York and the Philly suburbs.

Comcast staffers at the employee-organized #TechHasNoWalls rally against Trump's immigration order.

(Photo by Roberto Torres Luzardo)

Full disclosure: Comcast is a major Technical.ly sponsor.

Hundreds of Comcast employees poured out of the company’s Center City headquarters on Thursday afternoon to join a protest they dubbed #TechHasNoWalls against the recent immigration policies barring citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. They were part of a nationwide protest that included more than 2,000 Comcast employees, according to Comcast software architect Rhys Anthony McCaig, who’s based in Silicon Valley.

Though the company has not made a statement on Trump’s immigration policies, it supported the march and counted the time as paid time off. High-ranking employees participated, including CTO Sree Kotay, VP of Engineering Adam Hertz in Sunnyvale, Calif., executive director of product Jeanine Heck and senior director for software development and engineering Jessica Sant.

“I’ve been incredibly proud and supportive of all my coworkers,” Kotay said in an interview with Technical.ly. (Catch the video down below.)

Per organizer Aaron Martin-Colby, a 34-year-old software engineer with Comcast who led the march wielding a megaphone, the march managed to rally about 1,000 people in Philly to make a statement against the immigration policy that has garnered a wave of dissent from the tech industry, including some in the Philly area. (When we were there, an officer of the Philadelphia Police Department estimated the size of the crowd to be at around 800 protesters but other reports are now putting the number at 2,000.)

“This is nothing more than a statement of love and compassion,” said Martin-Colby. “We were here to say we love immigrants, America as a country of immigrants and we want more people to come here from other nations.”

The final tally of Comcast employees of the Slack channel that started it all (#walkout) was at 1,500 nationwide.

(The event, it seemed, was singular: Has a group of Philadelphia employees ever self-organized and protested a national issue? Let us know. Recently, Google employees did the same across the country.)

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Protesters made signs at home or in the office.

They then huddled at Comcast HQ and then made their way down Market Street for a final rally at Dilworth Park, where Comcast employees shared immigration stories.

Here’s what led software engineer John Riviello (speaking as himself, not as a representative from Comcast) to join the protest:

The Philly protest was echoed in the company’s West Chester and Downingtown locations.

At the head of a march was an arm-pumping, chant-leading Kotay, the Comcast CTO and Indian immigrant whom we featured last year. Kotay said he attended the march in support of his fellow Comcast coworkers.

In an interview with Technical.ly, engineering lead Sant gave a shout to her employer, saying that “it wouldn’t have happened without Comcast being very supportive of us doing this.”

Watch Sant and Kotay talking about the protest below.

On Wednesday, Comcast spokesman John Demming told us: “We understand that some of our employees are concerned and we respect their desire to express their opinions. Our primary focus is to make sure that all of our employees feel safe in their jobs, including while traveling. We have assured our employees that no one will be asked to travel to a place that would result in them feeling vulnerable in any way. And, we have enhanced our employee resources programs to help any concerned employee navigate through this matter.”

The protest seemed to endear people to the normally maligned Comcast.

And then, there was this sign from Geekadelphia editor in chief Mikey Ilagan.

Companies: Comcast
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