After a yearlong battle, tenants being evicted from their home in the Mission by a Google executive took their demands — and a petition — to Google's San Francisco headquarters in a rally attended by about 50 people.
Last night's event, led by Eviction Free San Francisco, highlighted five of the original tenants served Ellis Act evictions at 812 Guerrero Street: taxi driver Alex Tirado and his wife Claudia, a teacher, as well as their 3-year-old son; Evan Wolkenstein, a teacher; and Johnny Sideris, a therapist. The goal of the rally was to deliver a petition signed by more than 1,600 people, as well as raise awareness about the evictions.
The debacle began a year ago when Jack Halprin, Google's head of eDiscovery, Enterprise, bought the home on Guerrero for $1.4 million. He then evicted one tenant and issued Ellis Act notices to those remaining. Since then, none of the tenants has secured new housing, but they have filed a lawsuit against Halprin for landlord abuses.
Several people spoke at the rally, including Claudia Tirado, who reminded everyone why she chose to demonstrate in front of Google's HQ. "I am here to make sure that everyone knows who he is, who hired him, who funds him, and who brought him to the city," she said, referring to Halprin.
Crowd of about 30-40 people walking towards Google SF as part of Eviction Free SF demonstration pic.twitter.com/9R2jgRgwGN— Ann-Marie Alcántara (@itstheannmarie) February 27, 2015
After more chanting and live music from a band, the group marched to Google's doors where they were met by security. The situation remained calm, however, and eventually two Google representatives spoke with Sideris, accepted the petition, and left. While it's unclear if anyone at Google will actually read the petition, there's no doubt the rally garnered attention — one of the tenants' key goals.
"Google cannot claim not to know anymore," said Evan Wolkenstein, one of the evictees. "I invite Google to take this seriously and do the right thing and mitigate some of the damage that's already been done and to become partners." Tirado echoed him: "Google is not a responsible company. They are huge and don't care who they step on," she said. "It's wrong to evict people who haven't done anything wrong. There's an ethical question here."
Wolkenstein said the tenants plan to make the eviction process "unprofitable, uncomfortable, and not easy for [Halprin]." They hope to file an appeal and prolong their eviction as long as they can, while still urging Google to work with them. "It's a great opportunity for Google to be part of something positive and not just in terms of its customers, but also its community that it pretends to care about," Wolkenstein said.
While both the Chronicle and one of our own writers have declared the anti-tech movement over, the fact is the movement was never really about being anti-tech but about being anti-displacement, something Tim Redmond has reiterated at 48 Hills. Last night's rally proves that protests and rallies won't stop as long as residents are still being forced out.
Photo by the author.
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