Just Cause..... .......tenants need it!

root - Posted on 30 April 2000

Oakland Tenants and advocates rally for a
Just Cause Initiative in Oakland.

by PNN Staff

The yellow morning-ness flooded the middle of
E.19th street

"My friend and his family were evicted by the owner
of that building......for no reason.......now the
family is split up.......My friend and his family were
good tenants, they paid their rent on time, they didn't
cause any trouble.... "

A breathless silence consumed the air as i followed
the man's gaze to the large brown icon of familial
destruction; The 'Mediterraneun' at 610 east 19th
street - an apartment building owned by Richard
Thomas, one of Oaklands most notorious landlords,
well-known for his tendency to evict any and all
tenants who impede his progress to greater real estate
profit margins. The 19th street resident had
approached me as he watched us unload signs and
other accroutrements in support of The Just Cause
Eviction legislation rally that was about to begin.

"We're here to let folks know about the Just Cause
Initiative and bring attention to the soaring rates of
evictions in Oakland, and its impact on low income
communities throughout Oakland", James Vann,one
of the organizers was speaking to the crowd.

Tenant advocates, evicted residents and artists began
to flood the street. After a few of the tenants finished
speaking , reporters from ABC,NBC, and The
Oakland Tribune, began to drift away from the center
of the press conference towards a suited man with an
odd tilt to his head who was spitting out short
bullet-like sentences

"I'm not sure I believe what they are saying...."

His eyes were compressed into two small dots which were
wedged under his forehead. As he spoke he would swirl
his face and eyes upward. Parts of the sun-soaked sky
reflected off of his hair gel and blinded anyone who
attempted to follow his odd head movements.

" Oh are you a developer? "

" Well..no..", to this the head whipped around, up and
down all at once.

" So what do you believe? "

" Well, I can't say"

"Can I have your card and call you later?

" No well..ok ..no..... well....sure you can have my
card....Why don't you call me later"

"I have lived here at 610 E.19th street for 6 years I have
been. a great tenant , I always paid my rent on time, and I
have AIDS .....I was served with an eviction notice by
Richard Thomas.

As the tenant, Gene Ramos spoke and the almost-
developer shifted nervously between reporters, a terrifying
pit began to form in my intestine at the recollection of my
own eviction from Oakland a mere 8 months ago from a
building, where although riddled with severe inhabitability
violations, was still a home for my mother and I

"After Richard Thomas evicted us our family had to split
apart - my wife is living with her mother and I am living
with my family We were good tenants .now we have no
place to go to be together again. After relating his story,
former tenant, Richard Clemons walked away with his
family never to be housed on East . 19th street again

As the nausea in my stomach intensified and i began to lose
hope that the Just Cause organizers could collect 25,000
signatures for this crucial November ballot iniative..........
I realized.this was a job for El Mosquito, the poly-racial,
multi-lingual superhero, defender of justice, protector of
the oppressed.....


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