Gentrification. Hoo boy. We are and have been seeing it all around the country, and it’s especially bad in California where Unpops has its home, and it’s pretty bad on most of the west coast overall–we even did a whole episode about Samantha’s home base, Portland, Oregon a while ago.
So we’ve talked about how much it sucks, and how racist it is on top of being obviously classist, and generally been pretty gloomy about it. But did you know that people are fighting back against it?
On this episode we welcome Anna Valenzuela and Cindy Aravena from the Brujaja podcast to talk about a few different instances of protests against gentrification.
San Francisco Apple Commuter Bus Attacks
Apparently buses carrying commuters who work at Apple back to their homes in San Francisco have been shot at five times this past week alone. They haven’t arrested anyone for it so there’s no confirmed motive, but it’s not too much of a leap to assume it has something to do with the impact companies like Apple and Google (and their buses) have had on rent prices in San Francisco. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in that terrible, foul-smelling place (it’s okay, Adam used to live there) is more than $3,300/month. And it’s higher in areas near tech company bus stops.
People don’t like that. So, most of the protests tend to center around bus stops or bus routes and shutting them down.
And! It’s spreading! A Google bus was also attacked this week.
Austin and Boyle Heights
The Boyle Heights story is a little different–it’s more of a preemptive strike than what’s happening in San Francisco. Boyle Heights is one of the few still-affordable places in Los Angeles, and the recent vandalism of a coffee shop in the area seems to be connected to a rising fear that the gentrification that is beginning in the area will turn it into yet another San Francisco or Portland.
A similar story out of Austin, Texas shows another point of protest focused around one particular business, the Blue Cat Cafe, whose now-parking lot used to be a building (owned by the same people) that has a particularly ugly history. The business that was there, a piñata store called Jumpolin, was bulldozed before their lease was up because the new owners wanted to throw a party or something, I don’t know, it’s very confusing.
Anyway these protests are both obviously connected to issues around gentrification, but of course right-wingers have latched onto the vandalism and use of masks and so on to associate the protests with antifa and other groups that they hate (probably because they’re pretty close to the fascists those groups are so anti-). It probably doesn’t help that right-wing radio host and complete nut Alex Jones lives in Austin and has taken up the criticism himself.
Gentrification Protests In Europe
Oh fun, it’s not just America!
In 2015 an East London business called “Cereal Killer Cafe” was targeted for being a symbol of growing income inequality in England. The video of the protest embedded in this article is creepy as shit. There were kids eating there! Seems like the place is still in business though.
There was also one in Berlin in 2016, where 3,500 protesters marched and over 100 cops were injured. There’s no report on how many protestors were injured, even though cops were firing tear gas into the crowd. Most of the issues there center around rent prices. And they actually came up with an interesting solution for it, detailed in this piece from the Guardian and delved into a bit further in this piece from Jocelyn Woods, a Journalism student at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication.
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