Over the last several months, multiple protests have appeared in San Francisco specifically targeted at Google. Employees of the company have been harassed in their homes and Google’s private bus service has received flack for using public bus lanes, including an incident where protesters blocked a bus from moving.
Most recently, entrepreneur and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose has been the target for the anti-tech group “Counterforce.” Today, Rose said on Instagram that protestors have been around his San Francisco neighborhood passing out fliers labeling him a “parasite” and holding up signs that read “Ima Snip Snip yr Ballz,” a reference to his televised joke about cutting off women’s breasts with scissors. The fliers (pictured below) criticized Rose for allegedly helping to widen the gap between lower-income San Francisco locals and the higher income tech entrepreneurs.
Rose made a couple tweets on his personal account that address his thoughts as well:
that said, I did agree w/ them that we need to solve rising rents, keep the SF culture, and crack down on landlords booting folks out.
— Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) April 6, 2014
SF is such a great place, definitely need to figure out a way to keep the diversity
— Kevin Rose (@kevinrose) April 6, 2014
Since then, a website has also launched specifically devoted to the Kevin Rose Protest. They briefly explain why they’re doing these protests:
“It has now come to the point where even Diet Coke advertisements are referencing the influx of techies and their startups. With venture capital in their pockets, these wealthy professionals with few attachments are able to pay hyper inflated rents and property prices, displacing long time residents and increasing the cost of living. Tech-workers on average earn four times the wages of a normal service worker.”
“Venture capitalists enable these tech-workers by funding their startups. With the success of each startup, more and more ambitious tech-workers flock to the city and displace underemployed service workers to the cities at the far reaches of the BART line. These workers must then commute back to San Francisco or Oakland every morning, in most cases to perform menial tasks for the entitled scum who drove them out in the first place.”
We recently had the chance to interview Counterforce via email. In this discussion, the group addresses why they are targeting Google specifically and why they don’t want entrepreneurs in the Bay Area.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?
“We are unemployed, underemployed, and full time service workers. We are sex workers, baristas, bartenders, janitors, bus drivers, and a few of us work for Google. The increase in rice and milk prices affect us, despite it being only a matter of a few dollars. We take care of our children, cook for our friends, live meaningful lives and do our best to look out for each other amidst this polarized and volatile landscape.”
Tell us briefly about what Counterforce is and what you guys stand for.
“The Counterforce is a concept borrowed from a novel called Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. As such, we refer you to this fantastic novel that can inform the reader of how we arrived at the current dystopia.”
What types of people are in your organization?
“We are all anarchists. We use different methods to achieve the unifying objective of destroying the capitalist system while building another world. Anarchists have historically been poor and we continue to be so.”
Why target Google specifically? There are tons of other big corporations and companies here that also bring in people who can afford to pay the hyper inflated rent in the Bay Area.
“Google is unlike any other corporation. Their growth is difficult to conceptualize for most people. But as it now stands, Google has the ability to do very terrible things to people. We do not trust them or their intentions, nor do we know what they are. Military robots, Google Glass, and the surveillance of Gmail are enough to put any sane person on their guard, but lately it seems that Google is committed to a project that resembles the worst science fiction dystopias. Google is not completely unique in this regard. The future championed by Amazon is equally as bleak and another Counterforce group targeted them in February.”
Many successful entrepreneurs I know have worked incredibly hard to get to where they’re at. In fact, I know many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who are bootstrapping their startup and surviving under terrible living conditions. This goes the same for the Google employees who you’re targeting. Chances are, they’ve worked hard to get to where they are and are simply just trying to earn a living. Don’t you feel it’s wrong to target these people? Don’t you think it creates this culture where we punish people who achieve great things through hard work?
“No, we do not think it is wrong. Many of the people evicted these last years in San Francisco worked really hard all of their lives. Small business establishments that close because of tech-gentrification were created by hard working people who put all their money into the capitalist system. We cannot convey the tragedies and sadness of working people who see their entire worldview and dreams destroyed because of the economy, rents, or shifting tastes. Enough of that would drive anyone to block a bus or yell some chants at Kevin Rose.”
“Working people who went to community college, learned how to code, and were lucky enough to get a job might suddenly have money, but they will have to take their job seriously. Through their hard work the capitalist system gets stronger, perpetuating the inequality they once climbed out of.”
“Hard working people can do anything, but when they chose to rent apartments at ridiculous prices, they are objectively increasing demand for equally priced apartments, driving rent up in an endless spiral. The tech workers who are creating the demands that are changing the Mission and other San Francisco and Oakland neighborhoods cannot be exempted from their role. The more awkward, navel-gazing, oblivious, and racist these tech workers are, the worse the backlash against them is. When they ride giant free buses and wear Google Glass, it can only get worse. We are exposing objective processes, nothing more, and consider ourselves hard working people as well. But we believe there are more of us outside the tech industry than within. A keyboard is not a hammer.”
$3 billion is a lot of ask for- are there any alternatives that you would consider that is more collaborative in helping address the current issues you guys are trying to fix in the Bay Area?
“This amount of money is perfectly adequate for achieving our stated goals. As anarchists, we have spent decades of our lives building and conceptualizing worlds free from capitalism. Our experiments have been taking place consistently for over two hundreds years and our basic theories have never been proved wrong, they have simply been repressed, destroyed, or marginalized by very real and deadly opponents.”
“Anarchists are the only group with the skill set necessary to solve this problem, because the problem is capitalism itself and we are some of the few people who have continued to challenge it. A capitalist cannot solve the current problem, only we can.”
Has Kevin Rose reached out to you guys in any way?
“No, he instead went on TWIT.tv and obscured the clear message that we delivered.”
Lastly, can you guys reveal who you will be targeting next?
“We are not currently targeting anyone.”