Inside Google's ugly war against the homeless in LA

Just published an important story (and a companion micro-documentary) about Google's relationship with the homeless community living near its campus on Venice Beach. It examines the behavior of this giant Surveillance Valley company from a different, less techno-centric perspective — and it ain't very pretty:

VENICE BEACH, CA — How does Google, one of the most cash-rich and innovative companies in the world, propose to deal with the issue of homelessness in America? What's its 21st century, New Economy solution to disrupt and solve this difficult socio-economic problem once and for all?

In Los Angeles, the company's fix is brilliantly simple: Hire private security to harass and push the homeless out of sight, and then make sure that the smelly bastards and their tents and carts never come back.

I have seen this solution in action myself. I live just around the corner from Google’s new campus in Venice, LA — two big properties located right off the beach, smack in the middle of Venice's tiny Skid Row. Los Angeles is in the grips of a homeless population explosion, with an increase of 12 percent just in the last year. And this small two-square-block area used to be one of the last places where homeless people were somewhat tolerated around these parts.

But not any more — not after Google decided to claim sidewalks for itself and cranked up aggressive security patrols in order to drive away the local homeless population.

"Me and my girlfriend got maced by doing nothing,” a man named "Cory" [not his real name] tells me. He has steely blue eyes and shaggy hair, and looks more like an aging surfer than someone who sleeps rough on the streets. He recounts a recent experience he claims to have had with a Google security guard while sitting on a public sidewalk near the company's campus.

Read the rest on Subscription required.

PS: A huge thank you to Rowan Wernham and Evgenia Kovda for helping make the documentary possible.


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