Liberal Civil War in San Francisco: Immigrants And Hipsters Attack Tech Workers


may-day-2014Progressives in San Francisco are at war with themselves as anti-free market activists and immigrants are attacking – sometimes physically – the liberal but mostly white tech industry which funds the city. And though the rhetoric of the battle focuses on class, much of the conflict is being driven by the anti-white animus of Open Borders activists.

The hard Left in San Francisco is a mixture of anti-capitalist and anti-white sentiment. Thus, the demonstrators at May Day in the City by the Bay were not grizzled American workers fighting for high wages, but ethnic activists dressed like Aztecs and demanding amnesty. A poster for the day’s events, half in Spanish, pictured anti-American activists blocking a deportation bus. [Happy May Day, San Francisco, by Steven Jones, SF Gate, May 1, 2014] Mercifully, they limited themselves to blocking traffic, rather than the traditional Aztec practice of human sacrifice. [S.F. May Day rally ends with arrests, by Kale Williams, SF Gate, May 2, 2014]

Even by San Francisco standards, politics are growing dangerously unstable, and racial divisions driven by mass immigration are not helping. The 2008 recession struck California particularly hard, with double-digit unemployment lasting over four years in the recent downturn. San Francisco has been able to survive the downturn because of the tech industry, which is leading the state’s recovery. [California’s economic recovery uneven, with coastal areas leading rebound, by George Avalos, Oakland Tribune, December 5, 2013] This allows the liberal suits who run the sanctuary city to taxes on pet projects like outreach to illegals.

Unfortunately, the flip side of both population and economic growth is an increase in housing and rent costs. A 2012 survey found that the city had the highest rents in the country. [San Francisco Rents the Highest of Any City in Country, by Aaron Sankin, Huffington Post, March 14, 2012] Tech workers are a big reason for this increase, with the industry largely responsible for driving up annual rents by “12.3%, to a median of $3, 350 a month.” [“Tech workers squeezing out renters in San Francisco, Seattle, by Les Christie, CNN Money, February 7, 2014]

The center of the emerging conflict between the tech industry and rents is the Mission District, known for being both Hispanic and hipster. As one map shows, bakeries and cupcake stories overlap with the gang territory of Sureños and Norteños. [Guerilla cartographers map Mission’s unseen world, by Jennifer Wadsworth, SF Gate, August 2, 2013] The gangs occasionally shoot at each other , which adds to the area’s unique atmosphere. [“Daytime Shootings Shake Up 24th St,” by Rigoberto Hernandez, MissionLocal, July 27, 2012] MS-13 also claims space around 20th and Mission. [“Latest News Months-Long MS-13 Gang Murder Trial Winds Down In San Francisco,CBS, August 8, 2011]

Thus, some residents might be tempted to accept large offers to move out, while developers are looking to transform the neighborhood into a mecca for tech workers. [S.F. landlords offer tenants tempting offers to move out, By Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 2014.] Of course, some activists are opposed to replacing gangs with Dilberts if it means that “the city’s colorful neighborhoods, like the Mission, are at risk of losing their character.” [“Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City,” by Eric Goode and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times, November 24, 2013]

Though these activists would be opposed to the government using force to enforce immigration law, San Francisco liberals are quite happy to take the law into their own hands to protect “their” neighborhood. One activity that got the desired media attention was blocking Google buses, the private shuttles that carry tech workers to their jobs in Silicon Valley. A bunch of activists would descend upon a bus as it picked up workers for a cushy commute and block it from leaving, while holding signs like “Stop Displacement Now” and “Warning: Two-Tier System.” [Protesters block Google bus in S.F. Mission, By Ellen Huet, SFGate blog, December 9, 2013]

Over in the East Bay a few days later, a bus was vandalized with a window broken and tires slashed [Google shuttle bus vandalized in Oakland, By Katie Nelson, San Jose Mercury, December 21, 2013].

This violence is coupled with the Alinsky tactic of “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Tech workers and those who rent to them are the target. For example,

“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.”

[Individuals targeted as San Francisco tech money protests intensify, by Sarah McBride, Reuters, April 11, 2014]

Apparently it’s no longer safe to be perceived as a tech worker in San Francisco.

Another hostile incident was the car tipping of four smart vehicles that occurred early April 7:

Police seek suspects, motive in Smart car vandalism , by Claudia Cowan, Fox video, April 9, 2014

Reporter Claudia Cowen: “All the cars vandalized within 10 blocks of each other in a neighborhood like so many here in San Francisco has seen rents soar as highly paid tech workers move in displacing thousands of low and middle income families. Along with rallies fighting the evictions, there have been protests against the private buses that use public bus stops to shuttle Google employees down to Silicon Valley, some activists say the attacks on the progressive little smart cars might be an extension of that, perhaps an indication tensions are boiling over.”

Roberto Hernandez, Tenants right activist: “The technology industry has been given tax breaks, they’ve been given carte blanche to San Francisco, so people are pissed off at how they’ve gotten all these giveaways, yet the people who live here have got nothing.”

On April 13, tech journalist Kyle Russell wrote his Google Glass was deliberately ripped off his face and smashed by a gentrification protestor on Mission Street [I Was Assaulted For Wearing Google Glass In The Wrong Part Of San Francisco, Business Insider].

On April 6 Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose was the victim of a protest at his house. [“Anarchists Picket Digg Founder’s House and Demand $3 billion for Anti-Capitalist Housing,” by Jim Edwards, Business Insider, April 6, 2014] The protesters tried to extort a $3 billion handout from Google so their group could “create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area” which would solve the housing crisis.

The protestors also printed up posters calling Rose a “parasite,” among other less flattering names and physical threats. They knocked on the door of Rose’s home on Potrero Hill and handed his wife a flyer while chanting, “Your bubble’s about to bust, your Google belongs to us.”

Needles to say, the city has done nothing in the face of this disorder. Mayor Ed Lee is torn by his desire for lots of tax money from the flourishing new businesses versus his background as a tenant lawyer in Chinatown. [A Mayor in the Middle of Two San Franciscos, by Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, February 24, 2014] The mayor visits a different tech company every Tuesday to keep in touch with business needs, which makes him seem like a capitalist pig to the anarchists, while vaguely promising to build low-income housing.

The city’s Hispanic immigrant community is also fueling the unrest. One of the main organizers is Roberto Hernandez, a founder of Our Mission No Eviction and the subject of a puff piece by the San Francisco Chronicle. He brags about his lifetime of work organizing Latinos and defending his “barrio” from white interlopers who drive out Latino families. He’s a nativist—but the kind the media likes. [Meet the monarch of the Mission who’s fighting gentrification, by Suzanne Espinosa Solis, San Francisco Chronicle, April 27, 2014]

Ultimately, San Francisco shows the contradictions tearing away at the heart of the liberal coalition. Environmentally friendly, tech savvy liberals are suddenly finding themselves of the wrong side of the social justice scale. Ultimately, a business friendly economic and pro-technology economic agenda can’t be reconciled with the retrograde politics of grievance championed by the hard Left. San Francisco is already on the brink. If the city that gave us the Summer of Love gives us a Summer of Hate of riots and urban violence it will be the dream of the “permanent progressive majority” that goes up in smoke.

Brenda Walker [Email her] lives in northern California and publishes the blog LimitsToGrowth.org.