In an open letter to San Francisco’s mayor Ed Lee, tech entrepreneur Justin Keller said he is “outraged” that wealthy workers have to see people in pain and despair. As The Guardian reports,

The latest cultural altercation between San Francisco’s tech workers and the city’s impoverished population finds one such ‘entitled’ citizen declaring the homeless are “riff raff” whose “pain, struggle and despair” shouldn’t have to be endured by “wealthy” people commuting to work.

Full Open Letter (via JustInk)

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with.I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town… Worst of all, it is unsafe.

This holiday weekend, I had my parents in town from Santa Barbara and relatives from Denver and Rochester New York. Unfortunately, there was three separate incidents and countless times that we were approached for money and harassed.

The first incident involved a homeless drunken man in the morning coming up to their car and leaning up against it. Another bystander got frustrated with the drunken man, and they got into a heated pushing and shoving altercation.

The second incident occurred as we were leaving Tadich Grill in the financial district. A distraught, and high person was right in front of the restaurant, yelling, screaming, yelling about cocaine, and even, attempted to pull his pants down and show his genitals.

Finally, last night Valentines, I was at Kabuki Theater inside watching a movie. About two hours into the film, a man stumbled in the front door. He proceeded to walk into the theater, down the aisle to the front, wobbled toward the emergency door, opened it, and then took his shirt off and laid down. He then came back into the theater shielding his eyes from the running projector. My girlfriend was terrified and myself and many people ran out of the theater.

What are you going to do to address this problem? The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place.

I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger. The city needs to tackle this problem head on, it can no longer ignore it and let people do whatever they want in the city. I don’t have a magic solution… It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. Money and political pressure can make change. So it is time to start making progress, or we as citizens will make a change in leadership and elect new officials who can.

Democracy is not the last stop in politics. In-fact, the order of progression according to Socrates via Plato in the Republic goes: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and finally tyranny. Socrates argues that a society will decay and pass through each government in succession, eventually becoming a tyranny.

“The greater my city, the greater the individual.”

Finally, having been throughly abused we suspect, Keller appended the following to his “open letter”…

“I want to apologize for using the term riff raff. It was insensitive and counterproductive.”

And in an email to the Guardian, Keller added that he was writing an additional blog post about the issue.

“The thesis of the post was that inaction by the city and officials is not working. We all as citizens of San Francisco need to figure out how we can improve the city and address the homeless and drug addiction problem straight on,” he said.

I in no way meant to vilify homeless or drug users, my frustration was that we as citizens don’t feel safe. The amount of violent crime is increasing, and it affects everybody. What specific measures is the city taking to proactively help the homeless and drug addicted?

“Instead of crucifying me, we all as citizens should be crucifying the city and elected government officials for ineptness. The status quo is not working.”

Oh well I’m sure you’re forgiven then… Let’s ask one of the homeless riff raff themselves…

“Being homeless is like being the germ of the city. That’s how they treat you,” said Bercé Perry, a homeless resident of San Francisco. Perry was standing outside his tent in an encampment underneath the Highway 101 overpass. The 42-year-old said he had been homeless for about one year, and he has little patience for the distaste some people have for his presence in the city.

“They don’t care about nobody but themselves,” Perry said about the wealthy tech workers who’ve moved into San Francisco. “If you got money, you just want to grab anything you can get.”

ne wonders just how close to homeless Keller will be when his “Pets.com” collapses?


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