You Got Served

Nearly two months ago, a tenant from the Booker Emery apartment building in West Oakland contacted us about unsanitary conditions and unresponsive management at his building. He showed us pictures of the hordes of bedbugs that are infesting his room and biting his skin. He even showed us baggies full of the bedbugs he caught in recent weeks. Within our first hours of walking through the building, dozens of other tenants announced concerns and disputes they have with the landlord. Even worse, a handful of tenants had already been threatened with eviction for asking the landlord to address the problems. People were tired of living with black mold, bedbugs, and broken faucets, but many were nervous to raise their voice due to the targeted retaliation of previous weeks.
We began having meetings and BBQ’s to discuss the living conditions and strategize about the campaign. People shared their demands and we were able to craft a demand letter to be delivered to Ramdas Darke, the owner of their building. Before we even entered his office, the landlord began feeling the heat. He was using his ‘security cameras’ to monitor tenant organizing activities and sent building managers to snap pictures of organizers and threaten tenants with eviction. Despite the intimidation, tenants continued to door knock alongside us, nearly half of the residents signed a petition, and over ten residents notified the city of the landlord’s negligence.
Then, on the morning of October 10, a group of twenty tenants, organizers, and supporters marched into Ramdas’ office and delivered a clear demand that he find adequate solutions to the bedbug infestation. Ramdas gave nothing but excuses and justifications when we visited his office. Of course he would like us to think that his intentions are pure, but his thirty years of negligent management and retaliatory evictions prove otherwise. This fight is just beginning and will continue until the retaliation stops and the bedbugs are eradicated.

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