NEWS: 06.03.20 – With the recent death of a black man in the custody of a white police officer igniting outrage among Americans from all walks of life, which, as a result, sparked protests and civil unrest over the weekend in cities across the country, Apple was quick to react in solidarity calling for change despite suffering property loss and damage at the hands of looters in a number of the company’s U.S. retail store locations.
On Sunday, in an email addressed to team members within the Cupertino, California-based company, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, expressed his thoughts surrounding the events of the past week with the death of George Floyd — an individual who perished while being pinned down by the neck as he told a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer that he could not breathe — at the center of the message. In a report that same day, CNBC, the business news oriented cable news channel, which obtained a copy of the electronic correspondence (but did not identify its source), published on its website a full transcript of the internal memo and detailed how Cook condemned the killing, the chief executive officer calling for the creation of a more, just, world for everyone.
“Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions,” wrote Cook.
“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… While our laws have changed, the reality is that their protections are still not universally applied.”
In the email, the Apple CEO mentioned that while progress has been made in America since his youth, at the same time, communities of color (in Cook’s own words) continue to endure discrimination and trauma. The chief executive officer also revealed that many people have shared with him that they feel afraid in their community, daily life, and — most cruelly of all — being in their own skin. He wrote that we can not have a society worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from fear for every person who gives this country their love, labor, and life.
“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 stark contrast to the words of support for the protesters from Cook, the New York Post reported Tuesday that Apple had a different message for the looters who have broken in to a handful of its retail store locations during the civil unrest: you are being tracked and will be reported to local authorities.
According to the newspaper publication, looters who made off with stolen iPhones from ransacked Apple retail stores over the weekend in cities including Los Angeles, New York, and Washington quickly learned that the smartphones were loaded with special security software which tracked the thieves’ locations. One specific location — Apple Walnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — was a looted site where a pilfered iPhone was discovered to be of little value to the person in illegal possession of the device.
A tweet posted Saturday on Twitter by a user with the handle of “onlyfanobtainer” illustrated the alert message displayed on the screen of the stolen iPhone in the hands of the looter itself which read:
“Please return to Apple Walnut Street. This device has been disabled and is being tracked. Local authorities will be alerted.”
It is unclear (based on reports from various news outlets which also referenced the tweet) if this particular Twitter user was the one who took the photographed iPhone from the looted Apple retail store location and was sharing their misfortune or if the embedded image — which has been flagged by Twitter and is initially censored with a warning that The following media includes potentially sensitive content (but can be viewed by a user should they opt in and click the “view” button) — was obtained elsewhere from the actual looter’s account on another social media platform (which also has been found on Reddit) and re-tweeted..
“How’d people not know this. People thought Apple was just gonna leave the phones out with no security?” commented one Twitter user (in reply to the original poster).
Following the events of this past weekend, iDrop News reported Monday that multiple Apple products were stolen from the looted retail store locations.
According to the Apple news oriented website, there is a possibility that the tracking and locking software used for a customer’s lost or stolen iPhone — such as Activation Lock and “mark as lost” in the Find My app — is the same type employed by the company for merchandise displayed in-store but also could be an entirely different function altogether. In addition, It is assumed that iPhones on display at Apple retail store locations feature proximity sensors that will disable the device automatically once it leaves the premises.
iDrop News also reported that It is not known if this tracking information is being relayed in actuality to local law enforcement authorities or if it is more of a ploy to prevent theft since the company has been quiet on the matter (and does not comment or divulge details on such with the public).
On the “Black Lives Matter” movement itself, while the term was not invoked by name, in his email Sunday, the Apple CEO did not remain silent on the issue — unlike the company with matters of security — and made an indirect reference to it by using choice words targeted to a specific group of team members within the Apple community.
“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,” wrote Cook.
“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.”
According to the chief executive officer, 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.
Apple Walnut Street is currently closed through Tuesday, June 9 per the store hours listed in the online calendar on apple.com for that location. MacPrices was not able to confirm whether the closure was in response to the looting or if due to the existing temporary closures stemming from the global pandemic (which has been in effect since mid-March for all stores across the globe outside of mainland China with some U.S. locations having reopened only in the last two weeks).
A Note from the Author: the image featured in this story was procured from and courtesy of Yelp (taken and uploaded by one of its users — “Sar A.” — for the user reviews page on Apple Walnut Street).