No one should die like this. No one.
We are in mourning and shock, over the loss of so many beautiful creative spirits who were our friends, neighbors, members of our beloved Oakland community.
We are enraged that they were taken from us in such a horrific way. These beautiful creative spirits had no chance at the Friday night fire at Ghost Ship. The warehouse lacked basic fire safety measures like emergency exits and fire sprinklers.
The warehouse had been on the radar of the city of Oakland for years and as late as November, a building inspector came to the building but “couldn’t gain access.” There was no follow up plan.
The building owner had a string of complaints and long list of violations over the years. It has been reported the owner has 17 properties. The landlord collected rent for the warehouse and the venue operator collected money from the tenants living there, month after month, year after year.
In a gentrifying city with the 4th highest rents in the country, making do in unsafe housing is a choice people make in order to stay in the city, in order to retain their creative and community networks, in order to make art for a living. This is a choice no one should have to make. No one should have to chose between safety and affordability.
Let this tragedy lead us to come together and demand a truly serious effort by the city to ensure adequate, safe housing for ALL – whether in a warehouse, home, apartment, or a single room in a garage.
Evicting people who are living in substandard or overcrowded conditions because of the affordability crisis will only exacerbate the crisis, and punish those impacted by it.
We need real solutions, that protect affordable rental housing, improve the conditions in unpermitted units through regular inspections that hold landlords accountable, and prevent displacement.
Join us as we support a collaboration of dozens of visionary local artists, led by Gerardo Chow, for a show called Displacement, on Dec 9th & Dec 16th raising awareness about gentrification, in collaboration with Causa Justa. All funds raised by the show to support the families of the victims of the fire.
Join us for a Candlelight Vigil tonight.
Guardian UK article featuring Causa Justa by Sam Levin
Join us as we stand in solidarity with all those in our community who are personally affected by this tragedy. We will march arm in arm with you to ensure this never happens again, to anyone.