After four East Bay residential construction blazes in which fire fighters either suspect arson or have proven it since 2012, residents see a connection, here.
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"I call it cultural warfare," said long-time Oakland resident Fred Page, who cruised past the scene on his bicycle Friday. "Only forty percent of Oakland voted in the last election and this is the kind of action they feel is necessary to turn something around."
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"Every building that goes up faces mountains of resistance from people who fear it will raise rents and drive people out," Nick Yale said. "It's like a 9/11 attack against development. Class warfare."
"This is not worth it, I'm getting out of here," Brian Richards told us as he walked away from the building he calls home. "It's too much. What I see is class disparity. Wealthy start-up brats, and a couple of blocks away, people living in (expletive) tents under the freeway."
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"What do you do for a living?" I asked him. "Software developer. Yeah. I'm part of the problem."
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As Brian said that, inside the The Grand, evacuees returned to their apartments, called to the lobby elevators floor-by floor. They formed silhouettes in front of the back window.
We saw more silhouettes Inside a local church-turned-evacuation center, where roughly 100 people showed up after the fire. By 12:30, twelve remained.
Some day in Oakland, isn't it? "Oakland is in transition from one kind of city to another," said long-time resident Marjory Medearis. "We're seeing a restructure of diversity. Oakland was a wonderful place, accepting of all. Now there is a change going on. It will not make Oakland be Oakland."
All that discussion and distrust, from a fire.