San Francisco protesters throw scooters into street to block tech commuters

The protests involve the city's efforts to remove homeless tent camps, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Protesters in San Francisco tossed scooters into the street to block tech buses for almost an hour on Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  

The activists, who were reportedly protesting the city's efforts to remove homeless tent camps, set off smoke bombs and carried signs saying "Techsploitation Is Toxic" and "Sweep Tech Not Tents." The protests were held at the intersection of 24th and Valencia streets.

One protester, Sam Lew, told the Chronicle that San Francisco has prioritized tech over people, "aggressively sweeping people out who are living in tents and sitting on the streets." She referenced the scooters that often block San Francisco's sidewalks.  

Protester Chirag Bhakta told the San Francisco Examiner that "It's absurd scooters have more rights than the homeless do."

A representative from the San Francisco Police Department confirmed the activists were tossing scooters into the street, but couldn't confirm that it was done to block tech buses. The representative added that there were no arrests at the scene.  

California state Sen. Scott Wiener said on Twitter: "We have real problems in San Francisco. We will solve them *only* if we work together. Trashing scooters, blocking commuter shuttles so people can't get to work, & demonizing people because of where they work isn't how you make positive change."

Protesters have for years targeted the commuter buses for many Silicon Valley tech giants, blaming high-paid tech employees moving from Silicon Valley to San Francisco and Oakland with driving up rents and home prices in the area. Protesters began blocking Google and Apple buses in 2013, sometimes breaking windows on buses.

The latest protest draws in San Francisco's scooter craze, which started after three companies -- Bird, Lime and Spin -- began spreading hundreds of their rentable scooters across the city at the end of March, without warning residents or lawmakers. The dockless scooters are often strewn across sidewalks at bus stops, train stations and shopping areas. City lawmakers are fine-tuning a new law that regulates the scooters, which goes into effect on June 4. Companies that want to operate in San Francisco will have to apply for a permit.  

Watch this: San Francisco sees some vandalized electric scooters

First published May 31, 2:05 p.m. PT.
Update, June 1 9:27 a.m.: Adds comment from the San Francisco Police Department. 

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