Tuesday, February 25, 2014

FBI called in to investigate "Occupy!"-style "anti-wealth" graffiti

Atherton is named the "most expensive ZIP code in America" by Forbes, 2013.

"Feds fight graffiti"
2014-03-03 letter by Richard Parapar of Walnut Creek to the editor of "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/letterstoeditor/article/Letters-to-the-editor-March-3-5282906.php]:   
Re: "Graffiti on 9 homes targets the wealthy," Feb. 27.    
The FBI is involved with investigating the spray-painting of white picket fences in Atherton? Who decided that was an appropriate use of resources?

"Graffiti? That's our big problem?"
2014-03-01 letter by John Martoni of South San Francisco to the editor of "San Francisco Chronicle"
Re: "Graffiti on 9 homes targets the wealthy" (Feb. 27):
There is graffiti on my back fence weekly. I live in South San Francisco, and I would love it if the "1 percent" in Atherton could let me know how I can get the FBI to investigate graffiti cases in the areas where the other 99 percent live.

"Police Probe Threatening ’1 Percent’ Graffiti Left On Atherton Homes"
2014-02-25 by Brian Webb from "KPIX 5" [http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/02/25/police-probe-threatening-1-percent-graffiti-left-on-atherton-homes/]:

ATHERTON (KPIX 5) – Vandals have targeted one of the Bay Area’s wealthiest communities and their handiwork has gotten the attention of the FBI.
Last Sunday, multi-million dollar homes in Atherton had offensive graffiti sprayed on them. The graffiti was found on walls, fences and even a car.
Many of the messages said “F*** the 1%,” a reference to the income inequality between the top one percent of Americans and the rest of the population.
“It’s terrible,” said one neighbor who identified herself as Diane. “Yeah, it’s a terrible thing to do and to be here in town.”
“We go out and collect evidence and interview neighbors,” said Atherton Police Lt. Joe Wade. “We look for anything we can to lead us to the person who did this.”
One of the writings had a more threatening tone: “kill people.”
Neighbors are on the fence about who did it: Occupy protesters, gang members or teens with time to kill.”
“I don’t have this generation child but I can’t imagine them doing this,” said homeowner Carol Burke. “I think it is someone with an ax to grind.”
“As long as nobody was hurt is the main thing,” said Diane. “And you can always cover it up. “
Atherton Police say it is consulting with other agencies, including the FBI, in an effort to find the vandals. The FBI monitors activist movements such as Occupy Wall Street.

"Graffiti targeting the '1 percent' spray-painted in Atherton neighborhood"
2014-02-26 by Bonnie Eslinger from "San Jose Mercury News" [http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_25228566/graffiti-targeting-1-percent]:
Has Atherton -- named the "most expensive ZIP code in America" by Forbes last year -- become the latest battleground in class warfare?
On Feb. 16, vandals spray-painted the message "F... the 1%" on perimeter walls, fences, garage doors, a gate and a car on at least nine properties in the town's Lindenwood neighborhood, according to Atherton police Lt. Joe Wade.
And on a street in front of one house was scrawled in black paint the words, "Kill People."
As part of its investigation, the Atherton Police Department contacted other local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI, Wade said.
"We send out notifications to anybody we think might have information," Wade said. "They're (vandals) talking about the 1 percent, that's happening beyond our local reach. Sometimes the FBI will monitor protest groups and things of that nature."
The police department also sent out an announcement informing residents about the graffiti and advising them to keep their homes secure.
The vandalism took place between 6 and 9:30 p.m., along several blocks of Greenoaks Drive and the 100 blocks of Hawthorne, Rosewood and Heather drives, Wade said.
He said police have sought private security camera footage from residents, but so far have come up empty. Some residents don't have surveillance cameras and others didn't have them focused on the areas where vandals struck or didn't have them turned on, Wade said.
Without leads or suspects, Atherton Town Manager George Rodericks cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
"We don't know if it was an organized group or a couple of teenagers," he said.
During the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that sprung in 2011, protesters tarred capitalist institutions such as banks and the very rich as "the 1 percent" and referred to themselves as "the 99 percent."
Although the Occupy protests have since mostly fizzled, venture capitalist Tom Perkins made headlines earlier this month when he suggested the sentiment remains. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Perkins said he perceived "a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent" and compared the vilification of the wealthy to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis.
In 2012, the median income of an Atherton household was $228,393, according to U.S. Census data. The tree-lined Lindenwood neighborhood, off Middlefield Road, is home to old-money families and Silicon Valley leaders, including Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.
A neighborhood resident pushing her 3-year-old son in a stroller Tuesday afternoon said she hadn't heard about the graffiti and now feels a little worried.
"It makes sense that it would happen in this neighborhood," said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

"Anti-wealth graffiti rattles rich enclave"
2014-02-25 by Robert Frank from "CNBC" [http://www.cnbc.com/id/101444042]:
The Occupy movement seems to have moved West.
After a wave of anti-wealth protests in San Francisco, the nearby, posh town of Athertond, Calif., is having its brush with populism.
The Atherton Police Department said it's investigating graffiti that was spay-painted on vehicles, garage doors, fences and gates in the town's Lindenwood neighborhood. Atherton is one of the richest towns in California, with manicured lawns, sprawling mansions and billionaire residents that have included Charles Schwab , Eric Schmidt and Meg Whitman .
The Atherton Police said the vandalism occurred early in the evening on Sunday, Feb. 16, and included "anti-wealth" phrases like "F--- the 1 percent."
(Read more: Wealthy's worry: Don't hate me because I'm rich )
The graffiti may just be another case of a few kids making mischief, but because of the heated political climate over wealth, and rising class tensions in San Francisco, the police informed the FBI.
The bureau commonly tracks activist movements like Occupy Wall Street. Atherton Town Manager George Rodericks said that because the language in the graffiti is "similar to the Occupy folks," the town wanted to alert the FBI.
"The nature of the graffiti was the 1 percent issue," Rodericks said. "So they wanted to alert the FBI."
(Read more: The poor should stop whining, says luxury CEO )
The Atherton Police advised locals to "keep your property gates closed, your house doors and windows secured, your exterior lights on during hours of darkness, and your vehicles locked with no valuables kept inside the passenger compartment. Also, make sure to use your home security system on a regular basis. "
The vandalism follows a controversial letter in The Wall Street Journal last month by San Francisco venture capitalist Tom Perkins, saying that the American wealthy are being persecuted like the German Jews were before World War II.
Perkins later apologized for the comment, but it brought into sharp focus growing tensions in the Bay Area over rising tech wealth and its impact on the community.
(Read more: Five tycoons who mind the gap )
Rodericks said people in Atherton are generally not worried about the graffiti issue, since Atherton is one of the safest towns in America. But he said he hoped Athertonians would maintain their level of vigilance.
"We would hope our residents are at that (high) level of awareness every day," he said.

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