San Francisco. The 49ers, the Golden Gate Bridge, Silicon Valley and more vagrants than you can imagine.
Two of those came into conflict on Thursday, when homeless people and housing advocates staged a surprise protest against tech companies they believe are destroying San Francisco life.
The greatest targets of their ire are twofold: the electric scooters which have proliferated across the cityscape, cluttering sidewalks and blocking doors; and Google, with its plans to expand their physical footprint in the area. (Business Insider)
Protesters grabbed masses of electric scooters and piled them in front of the tech company buses that ferry workers from their homes to Silicon Valley workplaces. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The activists, blocking buses at the intersection of 24th and Valencia streets, set off smoke bombs, chanted “we are unstoppable, another world is possible,” and carried signs that read “Techsploitation Is Toxic,” and “Sweep Tech Not Tents,” in reference to the city’s recent efforts to clear homeless encampments.
In accordance with their “Techsploitation is toxic” message, some of the protesters dressed in hazmat suits and protective masks. Unsurprisingly, the participating homeless had not spent the money to purchase costumes.
The growing costs of housing and commercial rental in San Francisco have been steadily increasing tensions in the city; the exclusive buses using city streets have not helped, nor have the recent homeless sweeps (San Francisco, as a city, prides itself on its tolerance. One of the ways by which it demonstrates that tolerance has historically been to grant a semblance of sidewalk property rights to anyone homeless in the area.) The scooters seem to have been the breaking point.
The non-toxic smoke flares were set off to simulate fire, rather than actually setting anything ablaze. This was a chance for the protesters to let their voices be heard in a safe and organic environment.
The demonstration was organized by housing advocates from San Francisco and San Jose and was “generally against the continued techsploitation of our public space, workers and environment,” according to an email sent to media outlets ahead of the event.
Considering how much money the tech companies bring to San Francisco, however, it is unlikely that this protest will change anything… which suggests this may be the first of many such protests in the future.
— Joe Fitz Rodriguez (@FitzTheReporter) May 31, 2018