In SF and Oakland, activists block tech buses to protest displacement

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Activists gathered at 24th and Valencia streets in San Francisco this morning to block a private Apple shuttle.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

Between 70 and 100 protesters gathered at 24th and Valencia streets this morning (Fri/20) for yet another blockade of a private tech shuttle, this time to protest evictions in the city of San Francisco.

The activists, who were from Eviction Free San Francisco, Our Mission No Eviction, Causa Justa / Just Cause and others, stood in front of a white shuttle bus holding banners and signs. Some peeked through cardboard signs fashioned in the shape of place markers on Google maps, with “Evicted” written across the front.

The shuttle was bound for “Main Campus Ridgeview,” a hint that it was operated by Apple. While there was no contact between the bus passengers and the protesters, a few sitting inside the bus could be seen capturing the scene outside with their iPhones.

With chants of, “What do we want? No Eviction!” And, “Get off the bus! Join us!” The group of tenant advocates marched from the 24th Street BART station to the intersection, where Erin McElroy, who was an unwitting participant in union organizer Max Alper’s street theater performance during the Dec. 9 Google bus blockade, led the street rally on a megaphone.

“What we are against is eviction,” she said. “What we are against is the Ellis Act. We want the ruling class – which is becoming the tech class – to listen to our voices.”

Guardian video from today's protest by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez.

Patricia Kerman, who is facing an Ellis Act eviction from her apartment of 27 years at 20th and Folsom streets in the Mission, was among the speakers who shared personal stories during the blockade, which lasted around twenty minutes or so. She told the Bay Guardian that she is a senior on disability, with a “very low fixed income,” and has had no luck finding alternative housing since she received an eviction notice. “He doesn’t understand that a roof over my head is more important than money in my pocket,” she said, referring to her landlord.

Paula Tejada, who is also facing eviction, said having rent control made it possible for her to get into a financial position to open her small business, Chile Lindo, a Mission District empanada shop near 16th and Capp streets. “I am once again proud of the Mission that stands for what is right,” she said of that morning’s action. “Not everyone is taking this lying down.” She added, “if you want homogeneous, go live in the suburbs.” 

Mariko Drew and Anabelle Bolanos had turned out with Our Mission No Eviction. Drew, who described herself as a longtime resident, said the bus was “a symbol of the privatization and increasing separation between the poor and the rich.” Bolanos chimed in, “It’s a constant reminder of how … our mayor and our local government has sold us out. [Mayor] Ed Lee is letting money make decisions.”

Highly visible activism around eviction and displacement has fueled new policy proposals, such as Mayor Ed Lee's recent announcement that affordable housing development would be prioritized.

Meanwhile, the Bay Guardian received reports that across the bay, two separate blockades of Google buses took place at Oakland BART stations.

According to a post on IndyBay, a Google bus was blocked at MacArthur BART station at 7:45am in Oakland. There have also been reports that activists blocked a tech shuttle in West Oakland.

When the Bay Guardian asked several protesters who were involved in the San Francisco action if there had been any coordination between the actions, they responded that there was not.

At the San Francisco protest, police showed up on the scene and asked people to step onto the sidewalk. The Apple bus departed and the protest concluded without incident.

 

This window was allegedly broken during the protest of this Google bus in Oakland.

 

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