SF Bus Protest Organizer ‘Can’t Fault’ Oakland Window Breaking

An apparent worker on the Google bus targeted in Oakland on Friday morning tweeted a photo of the protest damage.  Via Twitter.

An apparent worker on the Google bus targeted in Oakland on Friday morning tweeted a photo of the protest damage. Via Twitter.

While Friday’s tech bus protest in the Mission District remained peaceful, an organizer told Mission Local Saturday that she doesn’t fault the more destructive tactics protesters used against a tech bus in West Oakland that won major play in the national press.

Protesters targeting a bus by the West Oakland BART station allegedly broke a window of the bus, carried a banner that said “F*** off Google,” and distributed a flyer that read, “The people outside your Google bus serve you coffee, watch your kids, have sex with you for money, make you food, and are being driven out of their neighborhoods. While you guys live fat as hogs with your free 24/7 buffets, everyone else is scraping the bottom of their wallets, barely existing in this expensive world that you and your chums have helped create.” One of the workers who was on the bus tweeted at reporters, “We just left and drove without window.”

In contrast, the San Francisco protesters showed up to block an Apple bus with megaphones, an ardent anti-displacement message, and whimsical cardboard costumes of Google pinpoints that read “Evicted.”  A Reuters photo captured the bus driver looking a bit amused by the spectacle. Still, one of the lead organizers said she “can’t fault” Oakland’s more aggressive tactics.

“It’s not our place to tell them how to fight back and organize in their community,” says Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, an organizer with San Francisco’s Heart of the City movement, the coalition of housing rights activists who have staged the protests in the city. “I think people who are affected by a problem need to do whatever it takes to stop the crazy violence of the displacement in their community, and I’m not going to judge anyone for the way they try to keep that message across.”

Sherburn-Zimmer had told Mission Local this week that the protests were “loosely coordinated,” but said the East Bay protesters are a different group and there wasn’t cross-bay coordination on tactics. “I’m excited the East Bay was also protesting because we don’t recognize this as a cross-bay problem,” she said.

A statement published in press reports from the Bay Area Council, a business group that represents 30 shuttle bus operators in their negotiations with San Francisco officials, stated: “the vandalism and violence against employee shuttles and the workers who ride them is unfortunate and unacceptable.”

While the media is already questioning whether the vandalism undermines the movement’s message, Sherburn-Zimmer says the violence will hijack the bus protest story “only if the media makes it that way,” she says.

And how do broken windows and f-bombs affect the amount of sympathy that you can get from the public? “Frankly, people in San Francisco have seen a lot of people displaced,” Sherburn-Zimmer says. “I think people are more concerned about their elderly neighbor upstairs and their children than they are about a window in Oakland. We’re not going to stop protesting displacement because someone broke a window somewhere else.”

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50 Comments

  1. ThatGuy

    You guys should of ashamed of yourselves for continuing to promote this shit.

    You’re as fair and balanced as Fox News.

    • HoofHearted

      It’s simple guys. The city incentivized tech companies to come here. However, property development hasn’t caught up. Surprise, people are getting pushed out. So, kids, who’s fault is it?
      a) The techies
      b) The government

      Come on kids … you can do it. There’s a 50% chance of you getting this right.

  2. inSF

    Why stop at breaking windows? They should get in there and beat those people up! Show ‘em! Because some lifer-sleazbag-tenant is paying $500 for a 3BR apartment in the mish and is upset about getting an Ellis eviction shoved up his ass. Yes, the landlord is obligated to give him that comically low rent for ever and ever and ever. No wonder he’s upset! Makes sense, huh?

    That “protester representative” is a self absorbed and clueless fucking asshole.

    • You wanna bet most of them are Meth addicts with no rational thought process left in their burned out brains?

    • Mister Big

      inSF, you’re part of the problem if you call the Mission “the mish”. Nobody with roots here or that have lived here before hipster techie boom 2.0 ever called it that. It’s like calling SF “Frisco”. Just don’t do it. You think it sounds all him, but the phrase “the mish” just sounds douchey, like you’re some NY hipster transplant trying to be all ironic and cool, yo.

      • HoofHearted

        inSF, you’re part of the problem if you are not Native American. Nobody with roots here or that have lived here before white people boom 1.0 ever called it that. It’s like calling America ‘unoccupied’. Just don’t do it. You sound like you’re some non-Native American invader trying to be all ironic and cool, yo.

      • david

        I know a bunch of born-and-raised San Franciscans, who grew up in different neighborhoods throughout the city, and I’ve heard all of them call San Francisco “Frisco” from time to time. But I agree with you about calling the Mission, “the mish.”

      • inSF

        Please, don’t be an idiot.

        - frisco kid

    • Pamela

      Very sad that the description is very similar as to what is happening now with the buses. Thank God no concentration camps; my family lived through that.

      • nutrisystem

        Not AT ALL like kristallnacht, which was triggered by state-sponsored racist propaganda.

        The techbus backlash is an organic response to an economic bodyslam.

        • John

          Your alleged “bodyslam” is entirely legal. Delaying a bus is not.

          • nutrisystem

            “Legal” is a funny thing… far from being an absolute handed down by God, it’s a fully man-made and living concept.

            It used to be illegal for women to vote but legal to employ children for 16 hour workdays in the coal mine.

            As recently as the 1960′s, it was legal for Americans to burn Vietnamese civilians with napalm but illegal for different races to marry.

          • John

            Yes, some laws change from time to time, and of course you are welcome to try and get the law changed, through legal and democratic means, of course.

            But at least the law is a matter of fact, whereas what should be the law is entirely subjective.

            And by the way, the only reason the Ellis Act exists at all is because a court of law ruled that there were limits to how invasive a local government can be before running into constitutional issues.

            So the Ellis act is more than a mere statute. It is an embodiment of an important constitutional right i.e. that no person can be compelled to be in a business against his or her will.

          • John

            es, some laws change from time to time, and of course you are welcome to try and get the law changed, through legal and democratic means, of course.

            But at least the law is a matter of fact, whereas what should be the law is entirely subjective.

            And by the way, the only reason the Ellis Act exists at all is because a court of law ruled that there were limits to how invasive a local government can be before running into constitutional issues.

            So the Ellis act is more than a mere statute. It is an embodiment of an important constitutional right i.e. that no person can be compelled to be in a business against his or her will.

          • John

            What is legal is a matter of fact and can be known with certainty.

            What someone thinks should be the law is entirely subjective and a matter of opinion, as here.

            It’s possible that Ellis might be repealed in the future but then it is also possible that it will be rent control that gets repealed – it’s illegal in over 30 States.

            Oh, and the history behind the Ellis Act reveals that there was a court ruling that preceded it, which questioned the constitutionality of a city trying to force a property owner to rent out his property if he does not wish to.

  3. MissionNative

    It would have been great if this article hadn’t relied on a single person to speak for the movement because she sounds like a complete moron. I think most sane people would agree that using violence to stop the “violence of displacement” is a shitty idea. Furthermore, “we” in fact do recognize gentrification as a cross-bay problem. Allowing this woman to be the only voice represented on this issue is a disservice to the other protesters.

    • Mission local

      Makes you think they couldn’t find anyone else to interview so they had to choose this loon. As they get more violent and break more windows, this movement will go the way of Occupy Wallstreet and be dismissed as crazy smelly whiners with no logical thinking.

    • nutrisystem

      You should read some history. Almost all wars over the last few thousand years were fought over “displacement” of one form or another. For example, Russians used violence to resist displacement by Germans in 1941-45.

  4. Godzuki

    I’m not necessarily for or against the broken window issue but I find it interesting about the reactions here. ML reports on people getting mugged, murdered, etc. several times a week and those stories don’t garner the emotional reaction shown here.

    Just some perspective….

    • inSF

      Sorry bro, but that’s a ridiculous analogy.

      1- people are upset about crime in the mish, and it’s often reflected in the comments section under the trouble articles.

      2- crime targets individuals and is obviously wrong…but being SF, there are some idiots that “rationalize” it and make excuses for it. But the broken window is less direct, and is more tempting to rationalize. And the dimwit protester comment shows that. “Violence of displacement.” God that’s precious. She could of been a speechwriter in 1930′s Germany.

      • Ockysays

        Stop with the mish “bro” and your comment above about the lifer sleazbag tenant in their low rent apt. says everything we need to know about you “bro”. Most of those lifer tenants are the elderly and disabled, people who have lived their whole lives in this city and deserve more than to get kicked out to fend for themselves. Landlords have the right to own property, but as soon as they start renting they are effectively becoming a commercial entity and thus they are and should be regulated by a government with the interests of the public good in mind. Unfortunately the city is too focused on bending over for corporate interests to effectively regulate the rental

        I do not agree with the violence nor the target of these protesters’ anger, they should be camped out in front of the landlord doing the evicting. That being said, put your shitty Ayn Rand book down and stop looking down at those less fortunate than you. Sleazeball

        • inSF

          “Most of those lifer tenants are the elderly and disabled”

          Bullshit. Most are younger and able bodied, but getting a free ride on cheap rent. If rent control didn’t distort the market so much, landlords would never need to resort to the Ellis act in the first place. Entitled asshole.

  5. Dylan

    “We don’t recognize this as a cross-bay problem.” She probably thinks all the techies live in the mission. The techies live amongst everyone everywhere now. I bet techies get evicted too sometimes. They’re here to stay and protesting buses is not going to do anything about it. What do you want them to do take MUNI to mountain view? Oh wait…

  6. two beers

    You should be ashamed of yourself for reading a blog you don’t like and telling other people what they shouldn’t be doing. There’s probably a story on FoxNews about a welfare recipient paying for a Lear jet with food stamps; shouldn’t you be reading that instead?

    • John

      So if i see someone assaulting you, I shouldn’t try and tell him what to do or what not to do?

      I should just let him assault you, figuring he must have a good reason?

      If not dangerous behavior like brick throwing, then where do you draw the line for acceptable behavior? Is maiming OK but killing not?

  7. Perspective

    It’s not just a broken window. They threw a brick through the window of a passenger bus. None of the articles say — was anyone still on the bus? Could someone have been seriously injured or killed?

  8. Nate

    I don’t agree with the tactic of breaking windows or the other guy pretending to be a google employee when there are a million authentic examples to choose from. With that said, as someone who grew up in SF and was displaced by this tech boom, I empathize with the anger.

    I have friends in tech and don’t hate individuals in the sector, but when the mayor and every powerful entity in the city roll out the red carpet for tech on top of longtime residents, people feel suffocated…

    I don’t think throwing bricks is a smart thing to do, but understand the seething contempt for a symbol (google bus) of a huge problem, that ruined life in the bay area for many people including myself.

  9. John

    If a brick gets thrown through the window of Fred Sherburn-Zimmer’s home, then he presumably could not fault that.

    Anyone have his address?

  10. Fabrizio

    West Oakland has been a cesspool of provocateur tactics for over a decade. Anarchist marches have been led by FBI informants. And on and on. Throwing a brick through a window of a Google bus is makes sense only to cops. And the message of extreme polarization and envy can only be coming from one place. For the “organizer” to refuse to condemn the tactics and the message in Oakland undermines everything being worked for in SF. Google, the cops and the Mayor could not be happier.

    • John

      Every time some protesters in Oakland get out of control, which seems like very protest that happens there, someone always claim that it is hoax perpetrated by an agent provocateur.

      There is not a shred of evidence for that conspiracy theory, of course, and in fact protesters have been arrested and convicted for such acts.

      The truth is that there is a small number of villains who piggyback onto protests there with the express purpose of causing trouble and making mayhem. That’s a big part of what sank Occupy, and they also show up for every Oscar Grant type demonstration.

      Thankfully SF is mostly immune to that although we did have the appalling window-breaking spree which, again, was laughably “attributed” to government agents in disguise.

      • two beers

        here ya go, John.

        You’re welcome.

        • two beers

          here ya go, John.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD5jgBlTXnA

          You’re welcome.

          • John

            So let’s get this straight. Every time a protester does something bad and wrong, it’s really a government infiltrator?

            How stunningly convenient for you.

          • two beers

            “There is not a shred of evidence for that conspiracy theory, ”

            I’m just refuting your lie, and your attempt to smear documented accounts of police false flag sabotage as “conspiracy theory.’

            No one said it’s “every time”: that’s just your attempt at interjecting a reductio ad absurdum to derail the truth.

            Your tireless fight for your economic self-interests would be less suspect if you were to refrain from the incessant use of logical fallacies to make your points.

          • John

            I asked you for evidence that it was infiltrators who broke the google bus window.

            It appears that you have none, as I stated.

            It’s obviously possible that it might have happened in the past, but this conspiracy theory is offered up every time something bad like this happens, regardless of any proof or evidence, so it is valid and appropriate to call you out on it.

    • inSF

      Oh yes, of course you’re right. And the “faux tech employee instigator” at the first SF event (who appeared to be a tech worker mocking the poor), was in actuality an FBI agent pretending (badly) to be a tech employee, only so he could be called out as a union protestor (failing) to act as a tech imposter. Brilliant!

  11. eee

    I wonder if auto workers in 1950′s Detroit faced the same kind of hatred??

    • John

      A couple of years ago, they hated bankers. Now they hate techies. Next year? – who knows?

      Blaming others for your failures is a full-time job.

  12. nutrisystem

    I find it odd that people are getting all freaked out about the hypothetical harm that could have been caused in the window breaking incident, yet totally don’t care about the MASSIVE and REAL carnage caused by the products sold by Apple, etc.

    According to the US government, in 2012, there were 3,228 deaths caused by distracted driving, and 421,000 injuries.

    That’s not hypothetical violence, but the real bone and organ crushing kind… a September 11th number of deaths every year. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the Department of Homeland Security?

    Thank you Web 2.0 for massive carnage, massive time-wasting-at-work, pervasive surveillance, and skyrocketing housing costs.

    • John

      Should we abolish baseball too? Because sometimes a baseball is used to attack someone?

      And why is it so hard for you to condemn dangerous behavior like throwing a brick through a window?

    • inSF

      “MASSIVE and REAL carnage caused by the products sold by Apple, etc.”

      You’re a fucking nut job. Period.

      • nutrisystem

        Are you seriously saying that 3,228 deaths and 421,000 injuries from use of iphones, etc while driving (per year, in the USA) is NOT a serious issue? If so, you need counseling.

        Every day I see people looking down while driving. Probably a good half of those pedestrian mow-downs you read about are caused by iphone addiction.

        It would be a simple software upgrade to make these devices inoperable while moving at car speeds since they have gps and accelerometers built in.

        I believe that the involved drivers AND device makes should be held criminally and civilly liable for such carnage.

        • inSF

          Ummm…how many people have car companies “killed?” Or alchol,companies. Or bike, or skateboard companies?

          I know you’re a socialist that thinks government should solve everything, but people need to take a wee bit of responsibility too, don’t you think?

          • nutrisystem

            Car companies had to be forced by government in the 50s and 60s to even include seat belts in new cars. Cigarette companies were actually claiming smoking was healthful until forced to admit it caused cancer, and more recently to pay massive civil damages for the damage that product causes. Both of these actions saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

            So yes, sometimes government intervention regarding dangerous and addictive products is a good thing IN ADDITION TO individual responsibility.

            Bottom line: smartphone addiction goes from merely sad to downright dangerous when combined with driving. It’s a huge problem, and the manufacturers won’t do anything to mitigate it until forced to do so by government.

          • poor.ass.millionaire (formerly inSF)

            What do you suggest the phone companies do?

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