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Click here for their online catalog. Displacement

James Tracy
Date Published: 
July 14, 2002

Boom! The Sound of Eviction
96 Minutes, produced by Whispered Media, 2002

Boom! The Sound of Eviction is a gripping account of the “” economy’s consequences on San Francisco’s working class—a legacy of displacement. Boom is an important work, not only because it exposes the hands that profit from evictions, but also it also documents the work of those who organized attempts to defeat gentrification in San Francisco’s formerly Latino barrio.

This beautifully produced documentary in some ways also signals the coming of age of the independent media movement that gained momentum after the Seattle 1999 protests. Not only do the producers turn in a remarkably stylized product, but they turn their gaze away from the summits and back into the neighborhoods.

The rush that characterized the boom in San Francisco can in some ways be compared to the Gold Rush of a century and a half ago. The pioneers who rushed to California often died penniless, but they nonetheless fulfilled the political agenda of the business interests who needed to develop the state and wrestle the remaining shards of power from Mexico and Native Americans.

Many young people, intoxicated by promise of wealth, came to San Francisco in the 1990s had to pack their bags when the tech industry bottomed out in 2000. Nonetheless they too served a political purpose of remaking the urban landscape whiter and more affluent, pushing many communities further and further away from the city.

Boom! is strongest when Mission District residents tell their own story and when passionate activists from the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition talk about their attempts to organize an effective fight-back. Also explored is the attempt to bridge the gaps between the predominantly white artists, also displaced from the neighborhood, and working-class activists of color.

What is missing, is a more holistic picture of the housing crisis. Gentrification was accelerated, not caused, by the boom. Since the movie glosses over the other contributing factors such as the destruction of public housing and the growth of the service economy, it is possible to leave this movie with the mistaken impression that the crisis left when the dot.coms went under.

This video is highly recommended, not for those who want to mourn the passing of a great neighborhood, but for those who want to organize against similar takeovers in their own cities.