Oakland police order crack down on warehouse parties after the Ghost Ship fire
In the three months since December’s tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California, local police have issued a directive ordering officers to report any illegal parties to superiors and a special investigative unit. Assistant Oakland Police Chief David Downing issued the mandate after an investigation into the Ghost Ship fire found both the police and fire departments had visited the warehouse on multiple occasions in response to complaints of an illegal rave.
These revelations beg the question as to why the warehouse owners were not cited for failing to meet fire code. In the past, the police have claimed it’s not patrol officers’ responsibility to handle permit infractions, however, in the case of Ghost Ship, there were many red flags.
East Bay Times reports:
“Police and fire personnel had visited the warehouse and nearby properties nearly three dozen times between mid-2014 and Dec. 2, including in response to a 2015 report of an illegal rave at the warehouse. The officer responding to the report broke up the party but never cited the promoter for code violations, despite reports the venue was selling booze and drugs at the event and charging attendees $25 at the door, according to city records.”
While some view this as an attempt to rectify the negligence that led to the Ghost Ship fire, others view this as the wrong approach. Jonah Strauss, an organizer with the Oakland Warehouse Coalition, tells East Bay Times this won’t encourage more event planners to pursue permits, rather it will push the events underground. Strauss spent time after the Ghost Ship fire advocating for improvements to warehouse spaces, rather than a government crackdown to eliminate the spaces all together.
Obtaining a special events permit, as required by the new directive, is expensive and complicated, and there are little positive incentives to encourage underground event planners to get them. Strauss sees this new directive as disproportionately favoring events with existing funding, and punishing those like Ghost Ship, with planners of more modest means. Rather than cracking down on parties, Strauss suggests, reforming the process to obtain a permit is a better step in the right direction.
Via: East Bay Times