Valleywag: Do Anti-Tech Protests Still Matter?

Gmuni protest on April 1, 2014. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.

Gmuni protest on April 1, 2014. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.

Or so asks Kevin Montgomery, founder and editor of Uptown Almanac, in a post this afternoon for Valleywag.  He’s wondering if specifically targeting big tech companies and their employees is the most effective way for activists to raise attention to issues of gentrification and rising inequality.

Fixing income inequality and gentrification in San Francisco sounds like its outside of Google’s purview—because it is—but it comes from a place of desperation. It is clear protesters feel the lower and middle-classes are rapidly losing ground in San Francisco, and if things don’t turn around soon, it will be too late…

However, the movement’s impact is waning. The script has stayed largely the same and turnout has hit a ceiling. The major thing holding media interest is the activists’ increasing histrionics. While sympathetic politicians like Supervisor Avalos continue to push for the cause on a local level, efforts in Sacramento to curb Ellis Act evictions have hit a roadblock.

Has blocking Google buses, protesting outside executive’s homes, and picketing conferences outlived its utility?

Montgomery cites an interview with Erin McElroy, of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, about how fewer people are showing to rallies and how she hopes local efforts could lead to a larger movement.

Ultimately, Montgomery argues that activists concerned with large-scale issues of inequality and corporate tax avoidance should go to Congress not Google I/O.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet @MLNow.

 

8 Comments

  1. Sam

    Yes, the analysis is accurate. The leftist extremists may make a lot of noise but, in the end, there are very few of them.

    We saw this with Occupy and its 15 minutes of semi-relevance where the movement that was going to change the world waned as soon as the weather got cold and wet, and they all ran home to mom for a cup of hot chocolate.

    And now Erin and her band of merry trustafarians can barely bother to get up in the morning to protest some people who want to take a bus to work.

    I feel most for Lydia here. A child of the sixties and of the much-revered Berkeley school of activism. And yet she has to mull over the reality that the legacy of those well-intentioned hippies nearly fifty years ago is a few “usual suspect” agitators railing against the system, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything.

    Rage against the machine? Rant against the fact that some people achieve success? It all somehow seems so lame, so dated and so utterly irredeemably pointless.

    • My Take

      On the contrary, Occupy helped propel Elizabeth Warren into a Senate seat and woke up the 99% voters so they realized the 1% Romneys were ripping them off.

      I have repeatedly spoken to tech workers waiting for their shuttles and apologized for the rabble rousers who have harassed them, and painting all tech bus opposers with that broad brush as you do is fraudulent.

      Nothing is being said about the tourist impact of these behemoth buses.

      San Francisco has been the most walkable city in America for almost two decades because of its pristine Victorian charm of two-story flats, and these modern buses the size of Greyhounds will negatively impact tourism because that’s certainly not what tourists come here to see.

      ALL of these buses should be required to pick up their passengers at 7th & Market, and stop coursing through our lovely residential neighborhoods.

  2. Missionite

    ​ McElroy and her crew really blew it. Attacking busses got them on the news, yes, but it alienated their best potential allies. Tech shuttle riders are generally younger, by virtue of living in San Francisco probably more civically minded, likely smart and driven, many of them are new to the city and are looking for friends and activities. More importantly, they work for companies who bend over backward to keep them happy. But after being repeatedly attacked, what tech worker wants to advocate their company to help? And even if they did want to help, these literally clownish antics gives them no credibility in the eyes of a corporate affairs office.

  3. Russo

    Sam *cough* John has spilled far more ink over these protests than Lydia has. Like all elitists, the rabble dissenting against authority makes him nightly nervous.

    He’s wrong, of course, about Occupy’s “15 minutes of semi-relevance.” He’s still talking about it himself, and Thomas Piketty has backed up the movement’s assertions with centuries of hard data. We all speak about the 1% now.

    As yesterday’s protests at Moscone showed, protests are licking up and solidarity is growing (see http://ow.ly/yvsRG).

    The megalomania of Silicon Valley elites must be checked and opposed, not only because of their “neo-reactionary” ideology, but because they are pushing it through our legislatures and attempting to usurp our very democracy (see http://ow.ly/yvsZx).

    • Sam

      If the crowning achievement of Occupy was the coining yet another phrase for the expression of envy, then I suspect the successful can sleep well at night.

      Of course I don’t blame you for trying to talk up these fringe protests that attract about 0.0001% of the population of the Bay Area. But you should take that up with Daniel, who persuasively argues otherwise.

      Americans really don’t do protests. At least not like you see in other countries. I guess that most Americans are fat and happy.

    • SFrentier

      After careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that Sam is not john. John was a bit more Ayn Rand-ish in his prose. Sam is more prosaic/matter of fact about things.

      Unforch ML has been kinda weak sauce lately, so perhaps john headed to greener pastures?

      As for these protests, two things:

      1- they have the opposite effect of their intention. Instead of ‘discouraging’ tech workers from staying in the city, they activate these people to want to stay here. Normally self absorbed and politically complacent people will turn around and fight if you blatantly discriminate against them and tell them that they can’t live in precious SF. And that’s just dandy by me, for I sure do love renting to techies. They are welcome anytime in my units :)

      2- the protesters sure are entertaining (personal fave- the google bus piñata.)

  4. marcos

    OWS was not a project of ‘the left,’ to the contrary, it was a non-leftist critique of crony capitalism. Each and every leftist activist whose agenda had stalled thought that OWS was a validation of everything they fought for so they all tried to graft their unpopular narrow agendas onto a popular broad agenda. This diminished the appeal of OWS and once outside of the cover of popular support, the state was able to violently repress OWS.

    Better to protest than not to protest, but protest is based on shaming to coerce desired outcomes. You can’t shame the shameless, al these people understand are threats to their profits, property or persons. Let’s try the first two and see how that works.

  5. SF Resident

    Get lost Erin, Sherburn-Zimmer, Tommi Mecca etc. You’re the ones failing SF.
    You do nothing to address the real problem – and that’s is the tenants who want low priced rents forever. It’s simply not going to happen.

    Most rental apartments are small mom & pop landlords who own 1 or 2 buildings. If these activists really wanted some stability they would protest for some equality for the owners. Instead they try to vilify and shame small property owners for providing them w/ housing, or for renovating upgrading neglected properties that become someones home.

    TECHIES need to wake up and see that Rent Control will hurt them long term. The endless barrage of anti-landlord rules this yr is leading to –
    1) less rentals available, more units being held of the market
    2) higher rents, due to restricted supply
    3) less willingness for owners to want to rent to any kind of artist, musician, teacher, etc. and we do want these people in our community!
    4) higher prices for those who do want to purchase in the future in SF.
    5) Your new landlords won’t be mom + pop types they will be corporation who care less about you.
    More restrictions leads to less diversity.

    Encourage the decent landlords good people to stay in the business of providing housing for a decent return. 60% of CPI and higher taxes is not going to cut it.

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