Six major fires in Oakland: No one believes in coincidence

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf heard reports of the latest apparent arson fire at a housing project under construction, she expressed anger and frustration.

"An attack on new housing in Oakland is an attack on keeping families housed in Oakland," said the Mayor.

Tuesday morning's fire was the sixth at a major construction site since 2012 in Oakland, and the eighth in the East Bay. There were two fires, Tuesday. On Peralta Street, the owner of a building already in the renting process told ABC7 News that an arsonist slipped in during a change between security shifts, used gasoline, and lit up a unit. Surveillance cameras caught nothing, even though the owner has been spending $50,000 a month on security.

"The camera down there got unplugged and they were supposed to alert everyone and I suppose they didn't," said Mark Osgood, an electrical contractor.

RELATED: Fires at 2 Oakland construction sites under investigation

All of the fires here and elsewhere in the East Bay remain unsolved. Police do have video of a suspected arsonist before a similar blaze in Emeryville in June 2017.

Greg McConnell represents a group of developers who have offered a $300,000 reward.

"They are saying help us catch this urban terrorist because that's what it is. No other way to describe it."

The word terrorism implies political aims. Oakland has them, especially now when torn between gentrification and an invasion of the homeless. Their advocates rallied outside City Hall, this morning.

"There is definitely a class war," said Needa Bee. "Gentrification is a class war based on money driven development that systematically removes the working class and low-income folks."

Not that anyone at the rally condoned Tuesday morning's destruction-- but it did set a stage.

"Trickle down economics has never worked and is not going to work," said Pamela Drake as she watched the rally.

McConnell watched, as well.

"If an arsonist thinks he is contributing to betterment by protecting against gentrification, he is doing the opposite."
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