A wealthy American businessman has caused outrage after writing an open letter complaining about the homeless – who he refers to as “riff raff” – he encounters on his way to work.
Justin Keller, founder of web business, wrote the letter to the mayor and police chief of San Francisco to voice his “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,” he wrote.
Amazingly, Keller said that because he had worked hard and made a lot of money he should not have to be confronted with such sights.
“I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society,” he said. “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city.”
He went on: “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,” he wrote.
Not surprisingly, his letter caused a flood of angry responses on social media where fellow San Franciscans condemned him. One said: “Thanks Justin Keller for reminding us how entitled privileged people feel about other human beings. Always refreshing.”
Health policy advocate Andrew Noble said: “Dear Justin Keller: so sorry you have to see poverty. Must be hard on you.” Another Twitter user, also called Justin Keller, was forced to protest that he was not the one responsible for the “myopic” open letter.
Keller later wrote an apology for use of the term “riff raff”, saying his choice of words had been “insensitive and counterproductive”.