Mourning continues in Oakland after the death of at least 36 people in a fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse, where the victims were overwhelmingly young artists, activists and community organizers. Many local artists and tenants’ rights activists say the fire is a symptom of a failed urban housing policy where rising rents have forced people to live and make art in sometimes hazardous spaces. “We need safe spaces to be able to come into the light and to stop treating artists like criminals,” says our guest, Nihar Bhatt, a Bay Area DJ and record label owner who survived the warehouse fire but lost seven friends.
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AMY GOODMAN: In Oakland, California, mourning continues over the death of at least 36 people who were killed in a fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse one week ago. The fire is one of the deadliest building fires in the last half-century in the United States. The Ghost Ship was an artist collective that housed many young artists and musicians, and the victims who were overwhelmingly young artists, activists and community organizers. This is Oakland resident Amir.
AMIR: Obviously, I’m sad. I knew two people in the fire, named Alex and Anna. You know, obviously, I’m sad, but I’m more concerned about their family and their well-being. More than that, I’ve lost two friends.
AMY GOODMAN: The Ghost Ship warehouse was reportedly rife with fire hazards. Its landlord had a history of owning properties with building violations. Many local Oakland artists and tenants’ rights activists say the fire is a symptom of a failed urban housing policy where rising rents have forced people to live and make art in sometimes hazardous spaces. In the wake of the fire, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has pledged $1.7 million to create and sustain affordable safe spaces for local artists and arts organizations.
For more, we go directly to Oakland, California, where we’re joined by Nihar Bhatt, a Bay Area DJ, record label owner, who…