Yesterday campaigners have occupied the former electric substation in Berlin’s Kreuzberg: a planned site of the new Google Campus. The activists took action in protest against the gentrification of the area, skyrocketing rents in Germany’s capital, and to open up the space for something better and community-oriented.
“The Google Campus is intended to be a magnet for annoying young entrepreneurs whose IT-sweatshops (“start-ups”) promise to deliver new ideas to Google’s company business,” the group’s statement reads, “New tech companies are driving the rents up in the area higher and higher. The endpoint of this process can be seen in San Francisco, which once must have been a halfway livable city. While it is especially aggravating that Google, despite its aggressive collection of data, is morphing into Big Brother with a user-friendly face, this is not the decisive factor for us. We would also put a spoke in the wheel of any other company.”
Google Campus, seventh one after London, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Seoul, São Paulo and Warsaw, was scheduled to open in September 2017. However, since the plan was announced, it has met with significant opposition from Kreuzberg’s residents, who worry that the proposed plan will result in displacement of local businesses, artists and long-term locals. As part of the resistance against the tech giant, the neighbourhood’s anarchist bookshop, Kalabal!k, holds fortnightly “Anti-Google Café” sessions, and since last year, the anti- gentrification campaigners have been distributing a newspaper titled Shitstorm: Against Google, Displacement and Tech Dominance.
The substation’s occupants demand that the company immediately and irrevocably withdraws from Kreuzberg and propose that the site is turned to a base for the community initiatives that are currently struggling against rising rents and displacement.