“Hey Jack, Arkansas wants you,” shouted Evan Wolkenstein from the steps of 812 Guerrero St.
The crowd of protesters standing in the rain in front of him offered alternatives: Oklahoma, or more realistically, Palo Alto or Mountain View.
Then the chants started up again.
“Hey Google, You can’t hide. We can see your greedy side.”
Google lawyer Jack Halprin purchased 812 Guerrero Street, a seven-unit apartment building in the Mission District, for $US1.4 million in 2012.
In 2014, he served tenants an eviction notice under the Ellis Act, which allows landowners to push existing tenants out so the buildings can “go out of business” and be converted into condos.
Wolkenstein, a high school teacher who has lived in the building, is one of those tenants facing eviction, but today wasn’t his day to be evicted.
“Hell no, we won’t go. Hell no, we won’t go.”
This week, tenant Rebecca Bauknight received a one-page Notice to Vacate that said she could be evicted from her apartment any time after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. Bauknight has lived in the building for more than 25 years, a neighbour said.
Other tenants in the building recentlywon an appealthat effectively delayed their evictions from the building, but Bauknight did not join the law suit because of a struggle with mental illness, her neighbours said.
“It feels great to have time,” Wolkenstein said. “The main thing that’s so horrible about this is the dis-empowerment.”
“Becky, el barrio está contigo. Becky, el barrio está contigo.”
Outside of the house on Guerrero St., about 50 protestors stood in the rain. Neighbours scurried down their steps into an Uber across the street while one yelled down from the window at the group, which chanted for hours in unison on the rainy morning.
“Even though it’s sad, he could have evicted one household to move in,” Wolkenstein said, taking a break from holding a sign to talk to Business Insider. “He knows he’s evicting someone who struggles with mental illness.”
“Scott Weiner you can’t hide. We are on the tenants’ side.”
A police car sat on the corner and watched, but didn’t enter to remove Bauknight, who was said to have stayed inside with her dog.
Meanwhile, the protesters who showed up at Halprin’s building Wednesday carried signs with slogans like “Evict Google,” “We love Becky,” and “This is a community, not a Monopoly board.”
Some were anarchists from Oakland who had travelled across San Francisco Bay. Many were local residents. Conversations revealed that many were in working class jobs, and had stood outside since 6:30 a.m. before they went to work to chant in the crowd.
“He’s not getting the message at all,” Wolkenstein said. “From the day he walked in the door, he was closed and cruel.”
Claudia Tirado, another schoolteacher and tenant in the building, led most of the chants, before two singers took over for a creative rendition of Hit the Road Jack. Tirado introduced her son who was sad about Bauknight’s dog leaving the building. Tirado warned that “Green leads to greed” as she passed around the mic.
“Hit the road Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.”
Then, someone on the steps spotted it: “Here comes the Google bus!”
The protestors turned and raised their fists as it rambled past, its occupants safe from the rain. “Boo!” the crowd hissed.
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