​Surprise protesters interrupt Google I/O

Google trotted out executives to introduce and demo new products. But there were a few unexpected guests, too.

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A woman interrupts Dave Burke's presentation on Android L at Google I/O 2014. James Martin/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- Protesters twice interrupted Google's keynote presentation during its annual developers conference, held here Wednesday morning at the Moscone Center West.

The first protester had a specific complaint against Google and one of its staff attorneys, Jack Halprin. The unidentified woman said she was one of the people whom Halprin had evicted from a seven-apartment building that he owns in San Francisco's diverse Mission District.

She shouted, "You need to develop a conscience, Google," during Engineering Director Dave Burke's presentation on performance improvements under the new Android Runtime. She also claimed that Halprin evicted mothers who were breastfeeding their babies.

According to San Francisco blog Mission Local, a mother of a young child, who might have been the protester, and six other people living in the building owned by Halprin were served with eviction notices this past February.

Although Burke attempted to ignore the woman, he eventually stopped talking until event security escorted her from the room. When he returned to his presentation, he quipped that Android L, which will run the new Android Runtime, will have improved battery life that can last "even during protests."

A second protester appeared about an hour later, shortly after a video presentation about Google's efforts to get school-age children into coding and building apps that matter to them.

Louder and less coherent, a man who appeared to be in his late 20s warned the crowd that Google was "building totalitarian machines that kill people."

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A second protester at Google I/O complained of Google's "totalitarian machines that kill people." James Martin/CNET

Google Cloud Platform team member Greg DeMichillie, who was talking about Google Cloud Platform at the time, said, "This is about as peaceful an application as I know how to build." The crowd roared its approval.

A Google spokesperson told CNET that both protesters were calm as they were escorted from the building and were not arrested.

There has been a sharp cultural rift between the tech industry and non-tech workers, specifically in the Bay Area, where many many tech giants reside. As Silicon Valley companies and their employees move increasingly into San Francisco, some of the city's residents have responded with animosity. That sentiment has taken the shape of protests, often condemning the shuttles that ferry employees of Google, Facebook, and other tech companies from their homes in the city to corporate campuses in Silicon Valley.

Community activists and the Service Employees International Union had warned they were planning protests of the event, reported Recode, although it's unclear if they were connected to the protests that occurred.

 

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