An ongoing series of Bay Area protests against private shuttle buses for Google and Apple employees went next-level, with Oakland protesters smashing out a window of a Google Bus and telling the workers to leave.
On Friday during the morning rush hour, anti-gentrification protesters blockaded two buses carrying Google employees in Oakland and an Apple bus in San Francisco. But in West Oakland, a blockade turned abruptly violent according to employees in the bus.
My Gbus got hit by protesters in Oakland and they broke a window. pic.twitter.com/VGCyhBLgyd— Craig Frost (@craigsfrost) December 20, 2013
That came as a surprise as other demonstrations were carried out peacefully. Local TV station KQED reports the San Francisco protest went off without a hitch.
Ultimately, however, the violence may muster little in the way of meaningful change. "One likely consequence of Friday’s events: security people will start riding the buses," writes The New York Times' David Streitfeld.
The protest was an escalation of simmering frustrations in the Bay Area about giant tech companies like Google and Apple providing employees plush perks without contributing to the development of city infrastructure. Protesters are also frustrated by the displacement of city dwellers, with landlords evicting tenants and raising rents to meet high demand from tech workers.
In a manifesto artfully titled "Get The Fuck Out of Oakland," protesters laid the blame directly on the heads of the companies and their employees:
You are not innocent victims. Without you, the housing prices would not be rising and we would not be facing eviction and foreclosure. You, your employers, and the housing speculators are to blame for this new crisis, so much more awful than the last one. You live your comfortable lives surrounded by poverty, homelessness, and death, seemingly oblivious to everything around you, lost in the big bucks and success. But look around, see the violence and degradation out there? This is the world that you have created, and you are clearly on the wrong side.
It's the same kind of discontent that helped Bill de Blasio to the mayoralty in New York City, but San Francisco is in a tough, different kind of spot. It has both one of the world's highest concentration of billionaires and one of the largest US populations of homeless people. A wealthy venture capitalist even dared to propose a world where Silicon Valley was its own state. And the companies, whose advanced, plush campuses are gleaming reflectors of their success, are in the difficult-to-sustain position of exuding social benefit while profiting heavily. "Because of the rhetoric of the companies, you think that they would want to do that, and maybe the disappointment is that they might not want at all to do that," said Roman Mars, the Bay Area-based host of the podcast 99% Invisible.