Capitalizing on San Francisco transit officials' scheduled vote Tuesday afternoon on a pilot program that would allow commuter shuttles to use Muni stops, several dozen anti-displacement protesters staged their third tech bus blockade in The City.
As they had twice in December in the Mission, sign-laden Heart of the City activists swarmed Eighth Street just south of Market Street shortly after 9 a.m. They surrounded a parked commuter shuttle with "MPK" lettering they believe was heading to Facebook at Menlo Park, as well as one with "GBUS TO MTV" they identified as a Google bus heading to the Mountain View campus.
They tried to block another bus driving south on Eighth Street but it made its way through the crowd.
To the blocked Google bus, they taped a sign reading, "Gentrification & Eviction Technologies: Integrated Displacement and Cultural Erasure," in the style of Google's logo. Protesters stood in front of the bus with a "F--- Off Google" banner as a worker on the second story of the shuttle appeared to be amused and recording video with his smart phone.
"Get off the bus, join us," another banner said. No one did.
A tech worker who said he does not work at Google stood with the protesters. He said he supposed the protesters' cause was important, but more disruptive, and interesting to post on Flickr.
Artist Tony Antoni, 40, who lives at 1049 Market St. in the throes of an eviction struggle, carried a "Twitterloin" painting with bobblehead figures of a baseball player.
"John Gall, the owner of my building, used to be a baseball player and he's basically taking over The City," Antoni explained.
The protest was peaceful and its ending about half an hour later was even coordinated with law enforcement officials, who announced the protesters were heading to the San Francisco Association of Realtors and they would reopen traffic on Eighth Street.
"We'll be back," the activists shouted as they stepped aside from the two commuter shuttles around 9:40 a.m.
After demonstrating outside the Realtors association, the group ended around 11 a.m. on the Polk Street steps of City Hall, where San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members at 1 p.m. will consider the pilot charging commuter shuttles $1 per Muni stop per day.
"The message today is that a dollar doesn't stop displacement," said Heart of the City and Eviction-Free San Francisco organizer Rebecca Gourevitch, 27. "People are being evicted all over San Francisco. Rents around the shuttle stops have gone up."