On the Scene as Tech Protests Escalate in San Francisco
In San Francisco, the recent spate of playful but targeted anti-eviction demonstrations are growing in both size and frequency. Hundreds gathered for the second time yesterday to protest Google attorney Jack Halprin, a landlord who, protesters say, is evicting teachers. The demonstrators, from a coalition of anti-eviction groups, then marched to the homes of teachers who were facing evictions.
Friday was the latest day of unrest that capped several weeks of public actions and protests aimed at tech shuttles and, recently, individual homes. Much of the energy for these protests began to brew when the city’s Board of Supervisors struck down efforts to pause the rollout of a tech-shuttle pilot program, which will allow the shuttle drivers to use public Muni bus stops for a small fee when it begins in July.
The demonstrators’ first stop was outside Halprin’s house on Guerrero Street in San Francisco.
Chris “Johnny” Sideris, who works at Modo Payments and is one of Halprin’s tenants, spoke at the rally, calling for Google CEO Larry Page himself to take action against Ellis Act evictions.
The crowd moved on, stopping at Mission High School, where teachers and students spoke about gentrification.
Lowell High School senior Natalia Arguello-Inglis took the mic.
“We can’t blindly hate on the techies,” she cautioned, adding that “gentrification can be good for us,” with the proper tax structures in place. Someone from the crowd shouted, “No.”
There was also dancing:
Moving on a few blocks to 55 Dolores Street, activist Roberto Hernandez called for a moment of silence for a local man who had been killed by the police. Hernandez said his new tech-worker neighbors see him as a “hood rat,” but said he’s making efforts to bridge between the communities. He had invited several of them over for a 49ers party.
On nearby Duboce Street, protesters spotted a white tech shuttle approaching in traffic. A young man in the march stopped and said: “Oh, yeah, here we go.”
Three protesters split off to block the bus (it takes surprisingly few people to block a tech shuttle). The riders inside seemed accustomed to the commotion, and continued to work. The rest of the march kept moving.
The signage was often quite serious.
But throughout the evening, a sense of humor prevailed among the participants. A brass band and dancing broke up the chants.