About 30 picketers commandeered the front lawn of Intel's
Ronler Acres Hillsboro campus for about 90 minutes today to highlight the microchip maker's resistance to a bill that would limit mineral imports from war-torn countries.
, a Portland activist for the rights of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and author of the book A Thousand Sisters
, organized the event in hopes of highlighting Intel's use of minerals from conflict zones such as Congo in its products.
To produce computers and processors, companies such as Intel must use rare minerals like tungsten, tantalum, and tin, which sometimes originate in turbulent places like Congo. Congo's civil war has claimed over 4 million lives since 1998.
And Congress is now considering bills —HR4128 and S 891
— that would regulate mineral imports to the United States as well as make available to the public the names of companies that buy materials from conflict zones.
Shannon and her fellow demonstrators allege that Intel and Hewlett Packard are hampering that effort through their contributions to political action committees such as the Information Technology Industry Council and the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition.
“It's not about Intel employees being bad people," Shannon said. "We want Intel to come forward as supporting this bill. If they did that, they would instantly be an industry leader on this.”
The protesters lingered in the sun for about an hour and a half holding up signs with slogans like “Your Supply Chain, Your Responsibility,” and with photos of Congolese women and children. Shannon also laid out 45,000 pennies in front of the sign at Intel's entrance to represent the 45,000 people that she estimates are killed each month in Congo.
Intel did not immediately respond to request for comment.