In a further muddying of the anti-gentrification, anti-eviction message surrounding local blockades of corporate shuttles, a group of protesters yesterday descended on the Berkeley home of a single Google X developer, and "chose to block [his] personal commute." Why? Well, they have about a half dozen reasons, none of which really relate to the shuttle bus protests, which leads someone like me to think back to the Occupy movement and want to scream, "STAY ON MESSAGE, PEOPLE."
Protesters (it's unclear how many were in attendance) distributed a flier detailing the many, many grievances they have against Google, the coporation, the NSA, capitalism in general, and Google X developer Anthony Levandowski in particular. Levandowski lives on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley (we'll refrain from broadcasting a photo of his home, as the protesters did), he helped develop Google Street View, was voted one of 10 Techies to Watch last year, and he is part of the Google X lab that's responsible for Google Glass and Google's self-driving car project.
Indybay notes the protesters chose to block Levandowski's commute, assuming he was even home that day and not telecommuting, because he "develops war robots for the military and builds surveillance infrastructure" and because he has "plans to develop luxury condos in Berkeley." Reportedly they blockaded his driveway for 45 minutes before moving on to the Ashby BART station, where they blockaded a Google bus and had "conversations" with several Google employees before being dispersed by Berkeley police.
Furthermore, from the flier:
It is not naivete that drives the heads of Google and people like Anthony Levandowski to go forward with their plans to create technology that only reinforces the domination that exists in society. Google actively collaborates with the defense industry, an industry more and more focussed on quelling social dissent. ...
Anthony Levandowski is currently trying to create his own cyber-capitalist utopia in the great city of Berkeley... he has hired the Nautilus Group to construct a proposed 77-unit apartment building call Garden Village complete with rooftop gardens, 24-hour surveillance, private security, and a fleet of electric vehicles parked in an underground garage... The Nautilus Group is composed of designers and builders who have created military installations, malls, and hospitals... The proposed project is a testament to the arrogance, disconnection, and luxury of the ruling class.
There are men and women in the Congo, slaving away in giant pits in order to extract gold and other precious metals from the earth. This gold will go into phones and tablets made by companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The blind man buying Taco Bell and the consumer saving his dad are the heroes of this tech-utopia. The pit miners and factory workers are ignored and forgotten. As long as capitalism functions, everything it is connected to will be poisoned with its sickness. People like Levandowski are gentrifying neighborhoods, flooding the market with noxious commodities, and creating the infrastructure for an unimaginable totalitarianism. This is the evil that we stake our lives against.
Got all that? Connections are also made to NSA surveillance, the "surveilled" spaces in this proposed condo project, how this surveillance will likely be directed at the low-income tenants in the projects in the seven mandated low-income units, and the fact that Google recently purchased Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm with connections military contracts for war machines.
Anyway, it's unclear whether or not the protesters' messages were heard by Levandowski, but their fliers were spread throughout the neighborhood. And one can assume that public hearings about his condo project will be loud, and long.
And I just want to say that while the size of Google, as a brand and company, is pretty overwhelming at this point, are they really suggesting going to war with Google, as an enterprise? Is Google the new Blackwater? Did we really jump from being annoyed with corporate shuttles and rising rents to turning Google into an evil tech empire? How did we get here?
I'd so much rather the anti-Google contingent just make more videos like this.