Tech

'Techsploitation' protesters in San Francisco blocked buses with a pile of electric scooters

Key Points
  • Protesters in San Francisco blockaded several tech commuter buses with a pile of electric scooters on Thursday morning.
  • The demonstration underscores the brewing tension between the tech industry and the Bay Area's lower income groups.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Protesters in San Francisco blockaded several tech commuter buses with a pile of electric scooters on Thursday morning, according to local news reports.

Bearing signs that read "sweep tech, not tents," and "Techsploitation is toxic," about 50 people gathered in a popular intersection in the Mission District, blocking the route of several buses, including at least one from Google.

Several signs targeted Google, though the protest focused more broadly on the tech industry's economic impact on the Bay Area, where billionaires share the streets with a growing homeless population.

The demonstration was organized by housing advocates from San Francisco and San Jose and was "generally against the continued techsploitation of our public space, workers and environment," according to an email sent to media outlets ahead of the event.

Silicon Valley's flourishing technology industry has caused housing prices, cost of living, and the wealth gap to swell in the Bay Area. The inequality is particularly stark in San Francisco.

Mark Farrell, the city's mayor, said in April that there would be an "aggressive" push to clear tent encampments out of the Mission District.

In addition to banners and chants, the protesters used a pile of electric scooters, largely from the startup Lime, as a roadblock. Critics in San Francisco say the recent deluge of electric scooters has led to cluttered walkways and sidewalks.

"It's absurd scooters have more rights than the homeless do," one protest participant said to the Examiner.

The city is requiring the three major scooter companies — Lime, Bird, and Spin — to remove their devices from sidewalks on June 4 until they've been issued permits.

Google and Lime didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Here are some photos and videos from the protest: