This tech bro wants to see homeless people ‘vanish’

In an open letter to San Francisco’s mayor, Justin Keller described homeless people as ‘riff-raff’ and said that ‘wealthy people’ shouldn’t have to see their ‘pain’

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tax the rich
A San Francisco muralMegan Wilson

San Francisco’s tech bros don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to a lot of things. Their attitudes towards those less fortunate than themselves; the homeless and unemployed. Their attitudes to women. Their attitudes towards paying tax. Every once in a while, however, a douchebag tech bro comes along to triumph over all the other douchebag plaid-button down bros. This time, Justin Keller is your guy. 

As a journalist, sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in a vortex of Twitter outrage, and take people’s comments out of context. Everyone sometimes makes poorly judged remarks, and it doesn’t always mean they’re terrible people. The Internet can be an unforgiving place, and many people have been crucified on Twitter for jokes that, while clearly in bad taste, probably weren’t worth destroying lives over.

This isn’t one of those examples. In an open letter, Justin Keller – founder of Commando.io, which manages server technology – urged the Mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee to do something about the city’s homelessness problem. Not as in, to help homeless people. More like, to make homeless people disappear so that “wealthy working people” don’t have to see them. Because nothing kills the buzz you get from rapidly gentrifying a city like being reminded of the plight of those less fortunate than you.

If you haven’t already read the letter, I urge you to do so as it’s really quite spectacular. Keller describes San Francisco as a city “becoming a shanty town”, where homeless people have the temerity to be “distraught and high” in front of “Tadich Grill”, a restaurant in the city’s financial district. Keller helpfully hyperlinks to the restaurant’s website at this point, so you can check out their House Specials – I have to say, the Australian Lobster Tail does look tasty, although at $50 I’ll probably have to give it a pass.

Rather than advocating that the citizens of San Francisco pull together to help the 7000 homeless people living in the city, Keller just wishes the “homeless and riff raff” would “up and vanish”. Pain is ugly, you see, and it’s much nicer to live in an anodyne city where artists and creatives and working class people and riff-raff and, god forbid – homeless people – simply don’t exist. Keller's argument is centred around the fact “the wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it.” For the estimated 850 teenagers currently sleeping rough on the streets of Keller’s beloved city, expensive college educations simply aren’t an option – they can’t even afford a roof over their heads, let alone a $50 lobster tail.

Obnoxious Silicon Valley tech bros roam the streets of San Francisco like a plague of the undead in a Hollywood zombie film. Numbered among Keller's illustrious ranks include this group of Dropbox employees telling a group of local kids that they needed to leave the public field they’ve spent their whole lives playing football on. Meanwhile, 60% of women working in Silicon Valley report being sexually harassed by their co-workers.

Keller ends his letter with the claim that “there is going to be a revolution”. Fingers crossed it’s a mass uprising of the people against the douchebag bros.

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