Berkeley resident Kyle Russell was assaulted while walking down the sidewalk in San Francisco’s Mission District on Friday last week because he was wearing Google Glass. The incident follows other similar assaults in San Francisco, which has also seen protests against Google and other tech companies for what is perceived to be their detrimental impact on the city. In January, activists also turned up at the home of a Google staffer who lives in Berkeley. Russell wrote about his experience for Business Insider where he works:
A colleague and I had just finished covering a march in protest of a Google employee who had recently evicted several tenants after buying and moving into a home in the area.
After more than an hour spent working on the story in a coffee shop, I arranged my laptop, camera, and notes in my backpack. Mindlessly, I put on Google Glass instead of squeezing it in with the rest of my things.
(In retrospect, I can see how that might not have been the best idea.)
The aforementioned colleague and I were on our way to the 16th Street BART station — I’ll note that I wasn’t using any device at the time — when a person put their hand on my face and yelled, “Glass!”
In an instant the person was sprinting away, Google Glass in hand.
I ran after, through traffic, to the corner of the opposite block. The person pivoted, shifting their weight to put all of their momentum into an overhand swing. The Google Glass smashed into the ground, and they ran in another direction.
Not knowing what to do, I scooped up the remains and continued to follow. We went back in the direction of the intersection where it started when the person ran into my colleague while I was blocked by traffic. After a brief moment, the person got away.
That’s when a police car pulled up. I gave the person’s description to two officers and they drove in the direction the person ran off. After several minutes, they came back and I filed a police report.
While I was waiting for their return, I tweeted about what happened.
Word got around quickly.
Initial reactions from friends on Twitter were very supportive — and then the trolls and anti-tech crowd showed up.
At first, I failed to see the humor in what had happened to me.
I had just been mugged, right?
After all, people acknowledge that the theft of someone’s expensive jewelry is wrong, despite its price. Why were people laughing at my misfortune or implying I somehow deserved it?
Activists target Google employee at his Berkeley home (01.22.14)