April 13, 2014

Reuters Covers Two Dozen Anti-Tech Protesters in San Francisco, Ignores Their $3B Demand, Call to End Capitalism

On Friday, Reuters dispatched Sarah McBride, a San Francisco area reporter, to cover a protest by two dozen people. Seriously.

According to the headline at McBride’s story, the presence of these two dozen protesters demonstrated that “San Francisco tech money protests intensify.” McBride utterly failed to describe the protester’s ultimate goals: lots and lots of money and an end to capitalism. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Individuals targeted as San Francisco tech money protests intensify

SarahMcBrideReutersWide

Demonstrations against the grip on San Francisco held by wealthy technology workers took a personal turn on Friday with protesters taking aim at a Google lawyer they say personifies the tensions being stirred by abundant tech money.

Jack Halprin, a landlord in the city’s gentrifying Mission district, became the focus of the latest blockade of a tech company commuter bus, with protesters demanding Google ask Halprin to rescind eviction notices he has sent his tenants.

Protesters told Reuters they will increasingly target individuals as part of a strategy to draw attention to the growing divide between rich and poor in San Francisco, a rift widened by a tech industry boom that is inflating rents and exacerbating social problems such as evictions.

“When you put a face on it, it suddenly becomes more real,” Erin McElroy, an organizer at Eviction-Free San Francisco, said of what she views as a technology-driven housing crunch. About two dozen protesters took part in Friday’s action.

The prospect of facing protests on their own doorsteps may unnerve technology industry employees across the Bay Area, many of whom are becoming increasingly aware of the growing ill-will they face in a region where housing prices are skyrocketing and salary growth is anemic outside the tech sector.

While many technology workers say protesters should blame landlords rather than their industry for rising rents and evictions, tenant advocates believe the two are tightly linked.

… Late last year, protesters began to block the commuter buses that ferry employees from San Francisco to the offices of tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Yahoo, south of the city. The unmarked, WiFi-equipped buses use public stops and are viewed by many as a symbol of the industry’s disconnect from a broader community left behind by the tech boom.

Earlier this month, protesters targeted a partner at Google Ventures, Kevin Rose, by passing out flyers in his neighborhood that included Rose’s address and labeled him a “parasite”.

“As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco,” the flyers read.

McBride almost seems to be rooting for the protesters in describing how they “might unnerve” tech employees.

Note that no one, especially McBride, seems particularly troubled that these protesters are harrassing their targets at their own homes — which is interesting, given the fierce media blowback against Tea Party-sympathetic outfits who have occasionally exhibited weak judgment in doing the same thing.

Readers who are getting their impression that the protesters are against all forms of progress — while hypocritically using the fruits of that progress to spread their message — are on the right track.

McBride failed to note that those who protested at Rose’s residence issued a 2,000-word manifesto, which included the following statements and demands:

… Unfortunate people like Kevin Rose have never known a world without capitalism and in their ignorance they only know how to fortify it. Everything they do helps to extend the suicidal reign of this world system that renders all life into a commodity and replaces real life with digital distractions that lead people into narcosis, gluttony, and sociopathic greed. Kevin Rose and his employers at Google represent one part of a larger structure that keeps people enslaved to this single economic system that is literally killing the planet and decreasing the chances of continued life.

Tech entrepreneurship is not a harmless or benevolent force. The industry is built directly on the exploitation of millions of faceless people in the global south who are driven off their land and forced to do the dangerous and thankless work of extracting (at great ecological cost) the precious metals and other raw materials that enable the tech world to exist. Once the technology has been shoved down our throats through merciless advertising campaigns, mandatory cell phone upgrades, and jobs requiring instant connectivity of smartphones, we find ourselves tied to their world.

… Kevin Rose and other venture capitalists like him literally design and implement this entire exploitive system.

… Taken as a whole, Kevin Rose invests in startups that perpetuate the process of alienation under the guise of social technology. It is, admittedly, genius: create the technological conditions of alienation that drive people to desperately consume technological products that claim to combat the alienation produced by contemporary technological society.

To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. …

-The Counterforce

PS: The following devices and programs were used in this action: Microsoft Word (for Mac) MacBook Samsung Nexus (powered by Google) Gmail Youtube Electrical Socket

In case readers are skeptical, the PS is not a gag.

The protesters found a bit of undeserved sympathy from Nitasha Tiku at Gawker (“The Anarchists Who Protested Kevin Rose Sound Surprisingly Logical”). Tiku, in an email exchange, got the protesters to admit that it’s all about ending capitalism, just as it was with the Occupy movement several years ago. The following is what passes for “surprisingly logical” in Tiku’s world:

The Anarchists Who Protested Kevin Rose Sound Surprisingly Logical

… Q. How many people are part of the Counterforce?

A.It is hard to accurately determine this. Membership in the Counterforce is not quantifiable. …

Q. … Can you offer any proof that you have members who work at Google?

A. A few of our members work for Google, although we cannot describe their positions for security reasons. …

Q. Do you honestly believe that Google will give you $3 billion? If not, why advocate for that over something more realistic that might improve the lives of people struggling to get by or find/keep housing?

A. Yes. The loss of 3 billion would not destroy Google. If that money were given to us, we would absolutely be able to accomplish the limited objectives of creating areas free from capitalism in the Bay Area and Northern California.

Q. Unilaterally driving out everyone employed by a tech company would have a negative impact on the local economy. Why advocate for that?

A. We are not especially concerned about the positive health of the capitalist economy, given that it is our enemy.

Q. What do you hope to achieve as a group?

A. If it is not clear, we want the end of capitalism and the creation of a free world.

…Q. Is the Counterforce non-violent?

A. Any group claiming to be the Counterforce is against the harming or taking of human or animal life.

Counterforce didn’t answer the last question. It is not “nonviolent,” as one of the definitions of violence is “an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power.” That’s exactly what one does in blockading buses.

This is what Reuters and Sarah McBride deemed worthy of attention: Two dozen people supposedly comprising a noteworthy “movement” which, like Occupy, is overwhelmingly likely to fall flat on its face. The the extent that such coverage emboldens groups such as these, such attention is very counterproductive and potentially dangerous.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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