Justin Keller, software developer and entrepreneur, is quite possibly the most hated man in Silicon Valley after posting an open letter complaining about the city’s homeless population and how “wealthy working people” shouldn’t have to see their “pain, struggle, and despair.”
Keller, the founder of startup Commando.io, published an open letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and police chief Greg Suhr on his website.
“I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with.
“Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town… Worst of all, it is unsafe.”
Keller, who has only lived in San Francisco for three years, goes on to describe three separate encounters involving homeless people that prompted him to write the letter, aside from the “countless times” homeless people have approached him for money.
One incident told of a “drunken” homeless man leaning up on his parent’s car who later got into an argument with another homeless man.
In another incident, while eating at famed seafood restaurant Tadich Grill in San Francisco’s financial district, “a distraught, and high person was right in front of the restaurant, yelling, screaming, yelling about cocaine, and even, attempted to pull his pants down and show his genitals.”
Another incident took place at a kabuki theatre when a disoriented man ran around the theatre during a show. “My girlfriend was terrified and myself and many people ran out of the theater,” Keller wrote.
“The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city.
“I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”
Towards the end, Keller warns:
“I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger.”
Most of the responses to Keller’s post point out his lack of sympathy for the homeless, which is instead replaced by his defense for a homeless-free lifestyle of the wealthy.
Many, including fellow “tech bros,” have taken to Twitter to criticize Keller on his ignorance:
One woman sided with Keller, stating that the homeless problem is nonetheless a problem that has literally reached her door steps:
One woman, Edna Miroslava Raia, penned her own open letter to Keller on Medium to offer a more constructive approach to his reasoning which, in his own post offered no solution. Raia began:
“Brace yourself; I am about to publicly insult you for not considering a) your role in the disparity, b) your industry’s role in the growing homeless population, and c) your inability to follow news stories.”
So far, the only form of apology that Keller has issued was for his use of the word “riff raff” in his post:
“It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish.
“ I want to apologize for using the term riff raff. It was insensitive and counterproductive.”