UPDATE: Union organizer shouts down protesters as they block private Google shuttle

A Google employee shouts down a private shuttle protester on Valencia and 24th streets this morning.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Protesters blocked a private Google shuttle on Valencia street today, decrying private shuttle's use of public bus stops without paying fees or fines.

The group of 20 or so neon-yellow vested protesters called themselves the "San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency." The company doesn't pay San Francisco a dime to use the Muni stops -- fines that private auto drivers pay regularly.

UPDATE 3:58pm: Just how does a story go from breaking, to verification, to "holy shit it's all over the internet now?" Here's our interview with Fake Google Employee Max Alper, and our recount of how it all went down: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/12/09/whyd-you-do-it-we-ask-fake-google-employee-max-bell-alper

UPDATE 12:32pm: Various tips have streamed in that this shout-out was staged. Protest organizer Leslie Dreyer talked to us on the phone and verified that this person's identity was Max Bell Alper, a union organizer from Oakland. This person was not a Google employee, and Dreyer was not able to verify if Alper was there in the morning with the group of 20-30 protesters. The Guardian is attempting to contact Alper for comment. Dreyer said she, as an organizer, was unaware that the "performance" had been planned. We are following this as it develops.

UPDATE 1:06pm: Within an hour of our original post, the Guardian learned that Max Bell Alper, a union organizer with Unite Here Local 2850 was the man shouting down Google bus protesters earlier this morning. We asked Alper what motivated him to impersonate a Google employee.

"This is political theater to demonstrate what is happening to the city. It's about more than just the bus. These are enormous corporations that are investing in this community. These companies, like Google, should be proud of where they're from and invest in their communities," he said.

When asked if he intentiionally intended to deceive media, he replied "People are talking all over the country about what's happening in San Francisco (referring to evictions and displacement). That's the debate we need to have here. The more we talk about it, the more we think about it, the more we're going to see the tech companies need to contribute."

 Alper said that he did not intend to engage in theater before going to the protest, but when there made the decision, "spontaneously," to stage the argument. When he maintained his story that this was political theater, we again asked why he did not verify his name at the protest itself -- and only after the story blew up in national and local media.

"This was improv political theater," he said.

Original post follows:

The SFMTA has a pilot plan in the works to regulate private use of public bus stops.

Though the private shuttles were the crux of the day's protest, the heart of the fight is over gentrification. As the tech revolution in SF leads to rising rents and longtime San Franciscans are being displaced.

In the video, a union organizer who hopped off the bus shouts down Erin McElroy, staging an argument with a protester who also heads the eviction mapping project. "How long have you lived in this city?" McElroy asked him. He shouted back "Why don't you go to a city that can afford it? This is a city for the right people who can afford it. You can't afford it? You can leave. I'm sorry, get a better job."

"What kind of fucking city is this?" he shouted, and then walked off. He mentioned repeatedly that he couldn't get to work because the bus was blocked, and did exit the bus (indicated he was a Google employee), but the Guardian (nor a nearby Al Jazeera reporter) could not verify his job title or name. If anyone has any tips as to the identity of this man, please contact us at news@sfbg.com. 

(UPDATE 12:12 PM -- The Guardian amended the headline to reflect our story more accurately, that though this man exited the bus and claimed he was late for work, we have not yet verified his employment at Google)

We'll have more on this story later in the day, for now, check out footage from the protest.)


you are lucky you didn't get slapped.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

So hitting a woman who is keeping you from getting to work is OK? I'd love to see that comment from 'guest' traced back to an IP address inside of google.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

dangerous act, and injuries might be expected. Likewise, trying to stop people earning a living could prove hazardous.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

Such courage. Such sacrifice. Such resolve.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

no. he said slapped. Nobody talks about getting hit by a bus with the verb "slapped"

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

no. he said slapped. Nobody talks about getting hit by a bus with the verb "slapped"

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

Lol are you going to report that to the cyberpolice?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

another on the internet, I suspect they would get little else done.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

but SFBG has your ip address, which makes it pretty easy to prove your identity if the need should ever arise.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

So you know which Starbucks they were in at the time, but nothing more.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 7:44 am

But that didn't stop you from making a coded threat against McElroy, did it? Also, do you really think she stopped that huge shuttle bus by herself? Surprise surprise, troll commenter thinks it's cool to suggest violence against women protesters, but wouldn't dare make such a comment about a man---not even a man making horrific comments about working class San Franciscans he's displacing.

Posted by Parkwood1920 on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

potentially confrontational situation where harm might have been done.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

that bitches get stitches.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

in harm's way, then some harm may ensue.

Protesting is fine; obstruction is not. She needs to understand the risks.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Make sure and invite me next time! I will bring the popcorn.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 12:36 am

Thank you protestors! I will soon join your ranks. S.F. is a city that fights for justice, if you don't like than YOU can leave!

<3 <3

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

Maybe some of these whiney protesters would be happier in Oakland

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

I couldn't agree more. HELLO - move somewhere more affordable. That's what we did. East Bay all the way!

This is America and people have the freedom to live where ever they want to. If you don't like it in SF anymore and the cost of living has gotten too high, you should look elsewhere. Look for better value than overpaying for an old beat-up apartment or house in SF. It's called common sense. These people are obviously poorly informed.

PS. The Bart runs very efficiently right into SF from multiple stops in Oakland.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:35 am

Evidently in 2013 in order to get something to be viral you have to use actors. I don't disagree about the busses, but the obvious actor is an actor.

Posted by Rob on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

SFBG has been had, methinks.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

Other sources cautiously reported the altercation and noted from the start that it quite possibly could have been staged.

The shouter had apparently been interviewed by SFBG in the past and most likely knew that the SFBG 'journalists' would fall all over themselves with a rush to print the story that he had fabricated for them.

Fact checking??? For a story that fits the SFBG agenda??? Why?

SFist had pretty good reporting on the incident, it is helpful to read stuff their before turning to SFBG for the entertainment value.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:30 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

Go live in Mountain View if you work there, oh is it too boring you dumb fuck? Don't make generations of San Franciscans pay more for you to live in a fun city. Take out all the old timers and people who have been here for ages and the fun drains out of the city and all we're left with is high rents and boring ass outsiders.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:34 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

A Google employee bought a two unit building, did an OMI and kicked out a long time tenant. He then kicked out the other tenant, did a rehab and sold the bottom unit as a TIC. This is at 22nd and Utah.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

opportunity? And improved a building? And wanted to live in the home that he had bought for himsefl?

And that is all a problem because . . . ?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

Yes!!! I couldn't have said it better myself!
It's a complete shame that folks who've been in San Francisco and contributed to its atmosphere can't even reap the benefits of their own cultural inputs. These techies don't enhance San Francisco's culture, they just suck the life out of it like parasites. And for those who may not have known, to live in a BMR apartment (the few that exist, and some of the only affordable options nowadays) you are required to work in SF in order to apply. The same should should go for these guys. If they want a fun and vibrant city, go create it! Don't steal it away from others!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:41 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

Agreed. China has wonderful restrictions on movement and work permit politics. Enjoy your freedom of movement while it lasts. Apparently people want to eliminate it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:22 pm

While we are at it lets also keep the blacks and Jews out of OUR city because we don't like them either.

Glad you found an outlet for your hate with the "parasite techies"

Posted by Alex on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

Your choice of employment is way different than your race.
If you are too stupid to get this, ask a black person.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 1:06 am

That's your opinion. Others of us think the new people are actually better for the city than the people leaving...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 9:13 am

Stupid, misguided people (the protestors). The problem is not the buses or the tech companies, the problem is the constrictive building laws. The same protestors would decry new development in the city. Ask any economist - the problem is supply and demand.

What do they hope to achieve from this protest? Eviction of all tech workers from the city? Perhaps they want to shut down the mass transit options offered by these large companies, so that employees are forced to use cars, and therefore park in the city.

Posted by Guest 1 on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

There is no room. The bus situation is ridiculous and it is the individual employees fault:

If the company you work for needs its own bus to come get your ass, you either need to buy a car (and pay to park/own it) or MOVE TO THE TOWN YOU WORK IN

Pretty fuckin simple

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

Wait - what?! People should all buy cars instead of riding buses? That sounds like it'll really help traffic.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

There's plenty of public transit in the bay area (and if these big companies put a fraction of they money they invest in buses, there would probably be much more/better transport). A lot of companies DO use it. i.e. EA, Microsoft and Amazon have buses that pick people up at Caltrain stations.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

EA and Microsoft also have private shuttle buses that come to the city.
Google also has shuttle buses that pick up at Caltrain. So does Cisco, Apple, Yahoo, NASA, Genetech...this is not a new or exclusive option along with private shuttle buses into the city.

They provide as many options as possible and many employees use a combination of public and private transportation (I used to have a job in the valley and would take muni to the company's private shuttle bus each day)

The amount of government organizations that would need to agree and design and fund more/better transit would not be able to grow at the rate that these companies need for their current employees. This is more complicated than everyone is making it. These companies are trying to provide a solution for the now.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

Google and others probably pay around $800/day for each of their buses. (single day rentals may cost $1200 - $1500, but for a long-term rental , $800 seems reasonable).

That's around $200K/year per bus which is probably reasonable for bus payments, maintenance, insurance and staff. If they have 500 of them, that's $10M/year.

Muni's budget is around $800M/year, it's unlikely that if the companies with shuttles paid the entire $10M to Muni that it would do anything to make muni better since $10M is only 1.25% of Muni's budget.

By running their own buses, they can dictate where they pick up and what schedules they run on.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

I used to take it to work down there. I took Muni to Market, then walked to Caltrain (because the 15 and 30 were too unreliable) then Caltrain to Mt. View and a corporate shuttle to work. 2 1/2 hrs one way. 5 hrs a day. I left home at 7 AM and got back at 9 PM. I finally quit and got a different job working in The City.

Later on I took a corporate shuttle and bicycled to the shuttle stop. 1:15 - 1:30 each way. Still hellish, but doable, especially since I could work on the shuttle.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

So you'd rather than 5,000 people buy cars and add to traffic on city streets? You don't think that would slow down Muni more than the occasional shared use of a bus stop? Are you high?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

Probably ha.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

Live where you work.
Work where you live.
So you'd rather 15 million people ride dragons to work?
what will that do to the imaginary environment?
Do you realize how much dragons would slow down Muni?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2013 @ 12:06 am

From what I read/heard, the problem isn't that Google employees live here (although the massive amount of money required to live here is a problem). Its that Google invests next to nothing in the city that houses most of its employees. They also don't invest anything in Mountain View either to be honest.

If they're going to use the cities Muni stops to pick up employees, they probably should pay something. Or (more likely) buy up one of the million dollar 1br homes sitting next door and build a parking lot there. The Googler's can sit and enjoy coffee from their private building and talk about how dirty the Bart/Caltrain is and how glad they are they don't have to use it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

Sure they invest.

They pay their employees, and the employees in turn buy things in the neighborhood they live in.

Food, clothing, services, housing.

This investment argument is a diversion. Even if Google invested, most protestors would still be unhappy. In fact they would decry the investments as just another attempt for Google to exert its will over the neighborhood.

The people protesting want one thing : affordable housing. I dont think anyone (except for landlords) disagrees with that. In fact, Google employees want the same thing too.

The solution isnt class warfare. The solution is to build more fucking housing in this city.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

Ok see your problem is you are using logic and expecting that they will as well.

Posted by CDnDenver on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 3:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

You are dead on right, it's quite simply supply and demand. It's ironic that the same people enraged over evictions are often the same that work to stop development which has only increased the pressure on existing units. Developers and speculators would much rather build new on under utilized land because it's far cheaper than evicting and rehabbing older buildings but the process is so costly and unpredictable due to the amount of anti development sentiment and NIMBY involvement that it's just easier and cheaper to evict or do buyouts and renovate. This city has a lot of under utilized land with one story retail, gas stations, paved parking lots, motor lodges, etc that could be redeveloped into high density housing that could greatly relieve the pressure on the existing housing stock. If this city would allow more luxury buildings in the high rent neighborhoods, the demand for million dollar units would eventually be saturated and there would be an economic case for new middle income housing in other areas of the city.

Posted by Alex on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

Perhaps Google employees, who have effectively won the lottery of life should be a little more humble. Weird that someone so smart should be so confused and believe that he has earned the right to live in the city and displace others because of his good fortune and good salary. This notion that one's value to the world is measured by the size of one's bank account is utterly sociopathic.

Posted by Ed on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

Google employees haven't won a lottery. They've educated themselves at their own expense, built experience, applied at Google and been accepted. They make decent salaries - so what? They have perks that make others jealous. So what?

If you can afford to live somewhere, you are free to do it. That's how it is. We're all free to be insensitive jerks too. This guy was a jerk, but he does have a right to live and work anywhere he's able to.

I can't afford to live in SF, so I can't live there. Do I have the right to live there? Yep, same as anyone else. It's not happening until I bring in more money. That's life.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

BS. They are spoiled children of those who could afford to send them to the right schools, so that snobby companies like Google (which have terrible applications, because the "kids" they hire have no real wold experience or concern for end users) who only care about the snobby school you went to will give them a job pretending to be important.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 09, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.