- Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco blocked tech buses with piles of electric scooters.
- They told Business Insider they were protesting tech companies’ using city streets to experiment and city officials’ increasing use of sweeps to force homeless people off the streets.
- In total, a full intersection, 11 buses, and several cars were blocked for about two hours.
Anti-tech demonstrators in San Francisco on Thursday used piles of electric scooters to block shuttles ferrying Google and other tech company employees to work. The blockade was to protest what they see as the failure of the tech industry and lawmakers to address the city’s income inequality and sizable homeless population.
“What you’re seeing here is that scooters have more rights than people,” Chirag Bhakta told Business Insider. “Our priorities shouldn’t be people first, scooters second. We’re tired of being seen as an experimental playground for the tech industry.”
The deluge of dockless electric scooters that have cropped up in San Francisco and other cities in recent months have drawn criticism from officials who say they were given little to no warning about their presence, as well as from activists who say the scooters are a prime example of tech companies entering public spaces without getting input from residents or permission from regulators.
Business Insider was on the scene. Here’s what the scooter protest looked like:
At about 8:45 a.m., protesters carried scooters to an intersection in San Francisco’s Mission District with the intention of blocking shuttles carrying Google employees.
Activists piled scooters in front of buses and unfurled signs that said “Techsploitation is toxic.”
San Francisco’s controversial scooter invasion has been spearheaded by three venture-backed companies, Bird, LimeBike, and Spin. These services allow people to reserve a nearby scooter via a smartphone app, ride around on it for a small fee, and at the end of the journey leave it anywhere to be claimed by the next rider.
To make their point that big tech is toxic, protesters dressed in white hazmat suits and masks.