Update: The protest was real, but the angry Googler was fake. He is, as was noted by Susie Cagle on Twitter, organizer Max Bell Alper. Bell’s little piece of protest theater was figured out in just a few hours, but now hundreds of outlets have written about the issue, so kudos.
As poverty moves to the suburbs and cities become more wealthy, tensions between old and new residents of urban areas are bubbling up into all-out class war. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the small city of San Francisco, where evictions are rising to historic levels as well-to-do tech workers replace long-time residents.
Earlier this week, during a protest by a new local activist group against Google buses, which pick passengers up at public bus stops without having to pay any fees to the city or fines for illegally parking in the spots, the tensions came to a head. In this video recorded by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an unnamed Google employee (or so we can assume from the fact that he emerged from a Google bus) shouts at a protestor, saying: “Look, I’ve been here for six months, okay? I live around the corner … look, I can pay my rent. Can you pay your rent?”
He goes on: “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? It’s time for you to leave.”
No doubt this will only add fuel to the anti-gentrification fire–and maybe inch the city closer to considering how to prevent private buses from blocking public bus stops. Though, in the current age of Internet stunts, one has to wonder if it’s fake. It was.