Pre-Mayday Roundup of Anti-Gentrification Actions on the West Coast
We’re the ones getting battered around by economic weather systems, sometimes it makes sense to board our windows, as it were.
Over the weekend, anarchists blocked several Uber cars in downtown Seattle. “Destroy Uber” is a site that claims to have organized the protest, and explains in detail why they think you should boycott the new company that has recently disrupted the taxi industry.
In light of this news, and looking toward the presumed anti-capitalist May Day actions that have traditionally occurred on the first of May, we thought we’d provide a quick prologue – a round-up of some of the most fascinating anti-gentrification stories from the West Coast.
But first, a little context
If you read the news and stuff, you probably know that the Bay Area has been going to hell. Rent has risen nearly 10% per year and is currently at record levels. Homelessness and other displacement is soaring as San Francisco and Oakland continue to gentrify rapidly. In the last decade, thousands of families have been evicted from their homes under the Ellis Act alone.
There’s a lot to be upset about if you live in San Francisco. Over the past six months, there have been almost weekly anti-eviction protests and attacks against institutions of the tech industry and related individuals and infrastructure. Many of the protests are drawing attention to the correlation of the life decisions of the growing class of wealthy tech workers to the marginalization and impoverishment of the area’s poor. The city of Oakland and the city of San Francisco are also accused of complacency with these transformations, by permitting tech buses to stop for free where others get citations, creating a surveillance network throughout Oakland, and allowing tech companies to avoid taxes.
Without further ado:
In early December, a Google bus was blocked in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Later that month, Google and Apple buses were stopped and vandalized.
By the end of January, protesters began targeting employees themselves when they picketed the home of Anthony Levandowski, a Google engineer working on the self-driving car.
In early February, a protest outside the annual TechCrunch awards held it down to criticize tech companies for contributing to evictions.
In late February, tech writer Sarah Slocum was de-Glassed at the notably-named Molotov’s Bar in San Francisco’s Mission District.
On April 2, protesters vomited on a Yahoo! bus during a blockade.
On the first weekend of April, a bunch of smart cars were flipped over.
On April 6, 2014, a group called The Counterforce organized a protest outside the house of Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose.
On April 11, a property owned by Jack Halprin, a lawyer working for Google, was the scene of a protest after he evicted seven tenants.
On April 11, reporter Kyle Russel was de-Glassed after reporting on the Halprin protest.
On April 23, The Counterforce formed a blockade in front of a Microsoft shuttle in Seattle, WA.
Last Saturday, April 26, Uber vehicles were blocked in Seattle, WA.
Mainstream news and industry websites have largely condemned these attacks. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be surprised that skyrocketing rent, widespread evictions, and increasingly segregated cities could produce anything other than retaliation. This is what advanced capitalism looks like, and you can bet it’ll get more intense before things go quiet.
To keep up with news of opposition to the tech industry’s effects on poor neighborhoods, we suggest you check out Fireworks, Defend the Bay Area, Indybay. On Twitter, follow Pink Edge, Mary Mad, Doug Lyfe, and Cindy Milstein.