Update, Tuesday 5:15 p.m.: More from the Bay Guardian on Monday’s Google bus protest and on the union organizer who, apparently on his own, decided to act the part of the enraged Google employee telling anti-eviction activists they need to get out of San Francisco: ‘Why’d you do it?’ we ask fake Google employee Max Bell Alper

We posted earlier on this morning’s Google bus protest in the Mission District: San Francisco ‘Displacement’ Activists Take to Street and Block a Google Bus.’ Then our attention was drawn to a San Francisco Bay Guardian video (above) of a great moment of street theater the protest provoked: an angry man confronting the activists. We updated our original post with the video and the following description:

“…Let’s show the only thing most people will remember about the protest: The San Francisco Bay Guardian video of an angry apparent Google employee, who declares he’s lived in the city for six months, who urges the activists to just get out of the bus’s way. ‘Why don’t you go to a city where you can afford it [the rent],” he tells one of protesters. This is a city for the right people who can afford it. If you can’t afford it, it’s time for you to leave.’ ”

Valleywag described the confrontation as “almost comically repulsive.”

But if something seems too good to be true …

No sooner had I hit publish on the post than someone spotted reports that the confrontation was staged. The Bay Guardian followed up its video post to say it had been tipped off that the angry, angry man telling off the protesters is actually a labor organizer from Oakland:

UPDATE 12:32pm: Various tips have streamed in that this shout-out was staged. Protest organizer Leslie Dreyer talked to us on the phone and verified that this person’s identity was Max Bell Alper, a union organizer from Oakland. This person was not a Google employee, and Dreyer was not able to verify if Alper was there in the morning with the group of 20-30 protesters. The Guardian is attempting to contact Alper for comment. Dreyer said she, as an organizer, was unaware that the “performance” had been planned. We are following this as it develops.

Google Bus Protest: Angry Confrontation Apparently Staged 10 December,2013Dan Brekke



Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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