A group of activists used the Pride Parade to make a political statement by marching with a faux Google bus, an action meant to call attention to gentrification in San Francisco. They rented a white coach and covered it with signs printed up in a similar font to Google's coroporate logo, proclaiming: “Gentrification & Eviction Technologies (GET) OUT: Integrated Displacement and Cultural Erasure.”
Some trailed the faux Google bus with an 8-foot banner depicting a blown-up version of an Ellis Act evictions map.
Others donned red droplets stamped with “evicted” to signify Google map markers, while a few toted suitcases to represent tenants who'd been sent packing.
However, their ranks were thin in comparison with the parade contingents surrounding them, which included crowds of workers representing eBay, DropBox, and, of course, Google.
A member of the anti-gentrification part of the march gazes in the direction of the Google contingent, where a huge crowd of tech workers was bursting with energy.
Google workers clad in identical tees wore colorful sunglasses, carried balloons and held a banner.
Activist Leslie Dreyer was one of six activists who put together the faux Google bus contingent. She used crowd-funding to raise roughly $2,000 for parade registry, bus rental, and custom-made decals.
“All of us have either been affected, or are in a position where we wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in the Bay Area if something were to happen to our housing situations,” Dreyer said. “There’s really no security to stay here.”
They selected the Google bus as a symbol because “we think the tech boom is directly responsible for creating a population of people who can actually afford these market-rate rents,” while also fueling real-estate speculation and giving rise to a deep-pocketed political lobby. “It’s not targeting tech workers individually,” Dreyer added.
Zeph Fishlyn, a sculptor and activist who earns a living as a tattoo artist, also helped launch the Pride Parade action. “My communities that I’m a part of – not just the queer community, but also artists and activists – are being forced out,” said Fishlyn, who suffered through two separate evictions in 2012. “I know 34 people who got evicted last year.”
Housing advocates are gearing up for a campaign targeting landlords that are infamous for gobbling up rental properties and serially evicting long-term San Francisco renters. Dubbed Eviction Free Summer, the campaign could get underway in coming weeks.
Activists handed out fliers encouraging people to join them by visiting heart-of-the-city.org .