Angel Onuoha, a Black Google employee, said that he was escorted to security after someone reported him as trespassing. He claims that the incident occurred after an unknown person at the company didn’t believe that he worked for the tech company, despite the fact that he was just riding his bike.
According to his LinkedIn page, Angel Onuoha is a Harvard graduate and an associate product manager at Google. He also co-founded BLK Capital, a black-owned hedge fund group.
“Riding my bike around Google’s campus and somebody called security on me because they didn’t believe I was an employee,” he wrote in the viral Tweet. “Had to get escorted by two security guards to verify my ID badge.”
Angel said that security “ended up taking my ID badge away from me later that day and I was told to call security if I had a problem with it.”
After holding him for over 30 minutes, Onuoha missed his bus ride home. He has worked at Google since October 2020.
Many people online questioned the company’s statement, asking what could have happened to his ID badge that would have made security stop him from riding his bike around the office.
“We take this employee’s concerns very seriously, are in touch with him and are looking into this,” a Google spokesperson said. “We learned that the employee was having issues with his badge due to an administrative error and contacted the reception team for help. After they were unable to resolve the issue, the security team was called to look into and help resolve the issue.”
“More broadly, one step we’ve taken recently to decrease badging incidents is to make clear that employees should leave investigating these kinds of access concerns to our security team,” the spokesperson continued. “Our goal is to ensure that every employee experiences Google as an inclusive workplace and that we create a stronger sense of belonging for all employees.”
Responding to Angel online, a former Google security guard named Albert Richardson said that he had security called on him for being Black on company grounds, despite being a security guard himself.
“Dawg I worked as security at Google and got security called on me, Smh,” Richardson wrote. He claims that he was on lunch in one of the “micro kitchens” when he got a call from central security that said that a Google employee reported a “suspicious individual” in that same area.
“I spent a hour looking for myself,” Richardson said.
According to a Bloomberg report from July 2020, Google’s security team has long singled out Black and Latinx employees for ID badge checks. Many workers then took their complaints to CEO Sundar Pichai, who allegedly tossed out the security program in the wake of #BlackLivesMatter protests.
Security, at the time, encouraged employees to be on the look out for suspicious characters trying to break into headquarters, which they described as a way to make the workplace safer. Many Black and Latinx workers claimed that it only made them feel more unsafe.
Though the policy has since been suspended, and the spokesperson made clear to leave the matter up to the security team in their statement regarding Angel’s recent incident, many feel like the surveillance from their fellow staffers continues.
According to Google’s 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report, only 4.4% of the company’s employees are Black.
Leslie Miley, a Black engineering manager at Google, was blocked from entering the San Francisco office in September 2019, citing that another employee demanded to see his badge. He later shared the incident online, writing “Welcome to being Black in Big Tech.”
“It is the physical manifestation of so many people of color’s experience in tech,” he said. “We still can’t get in the door – literally.”