AUSTIN: Flash Demo at Developer’s House Breaks Windows, Security Cameras

Video Still: Protesters on the front porch of developer Gian Michael Piano’s home in Central Austin

By Jakob Stein

On Tuesday night, a group of community members and activists conducted a flash demonstration at the home of Gian Michael Piano, a manager with Presidium Group, the developer seeking to build the massive ‘Domain on Riverside’ luxury project in East Austin. The group of masked protesters rushed to Piano’s doorstep, pasted posters to the door and walls, smashed his windows, and knocked down security cameras on the front porch.

In video sent to Incendiary, Piano can be seen opening his door after a poster with ‘Slum Lord Mike’ was pasted to it, but quickly closed the door out of fear of the militant protesters assembled on his porch chanting, “Profit’s All You Care About, We Won’t Stop Til We Run You Out!” The protesters carried a banner reading “Combat & Resist Parasitic Slumlords” which featured a crossed-out bug on it.

Protesters banged heavily on the windows, breaking some panes, as others knocked down Piano’s security cameras.

The protesters left in under two minutes after bringing the rage of Austin residents tired of gentrification and their displacement directly to Piano’s door.

Left: Mike Piano, sitting next to Phyliss Snodgrass from Austin Habitat for Humanity

Piano is a 26-year-old development manager with Presidium Group who owns the deceptively humble Hyde Park home, which is valued at over half a million dollars according to 2019 tax records. Purchasing a home in Central Austin after years of rampant gentrification is almost entirely out of reach for Austin’s working class and young people without a bourgeois income.

Piano displaces other young people, workers, and families who can’t afford Austin’s outrageous real estate prices, not for lack of hard work, but because capitalism concentrates wealth into the hands of bourgeois parasites such as Piano and the Presidium Group, who earn their wealth by driving displacement and chasing financial speculation in the real estate market.

Piano’s front path and home tagged with graffiti in late January

Late last month, Piano’s home was the target of another action in which “No Domain On Riverside” was written on his front path, and red spray paint was scribbled across the front width of his house.

In a panel with other developers and the non-profit, Habitat for Humanity, last November, Piano had said that Defend Our Hoodz, the anti-gentrification organization which has led the fight against the “Domain on Riverside”, had “effected no change” instead claiming that it was wealthy homeowners in the Riverside area who were willing to talk to developers who should be praised.

Defend Our Hoodz and Riverside residents have vowed to continue fighting against the Domain On Riverside, understanding that the fight goes beyond city council votes. Revolutionary activists have called on the working class to reject the collaborationism of well-off petty bourgeois neighborhoods associations and sellout non-profits that cut deals for capitalist charity.

Video Still: Banner with “Combat & Resist Parasitic Slumlords”