Several hundred people gathered last night around a white pagoda adjacent to Oakland's Lake Merritt to mourn the confirmed 36 people lost in Friday's Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Friends and family members of the deceased were in attendance along with uniformed members of the Oakland Fire Department, and the Chronicle reports that speakers included Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. ABC 7 notes that the father of victim Travis Hough also spoke.
Many vigil attendees, who for the most part eschewed candles in favor of LEDs or other similar artificial flames in deference to the fire victims, were seen holding back tears or openly crying. And while city officials have opened a criminal probe into the blaze, those gathered last night mostly avoided finger pointing. “We took a devastating hit and all we want to do is honor those people and not put any blame on anybody,” 34-year-old James Morales told the paper. "The people, the artists, the musicians are what make Oakland so tight."
Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguín was also on the scene, and BuzzFeed reports that his remarks regarding artist safety were met with applause. "I want to make sure artists have a safe place to live and to work," he told the mourners.
The obvious heartbreak and frustration that many of those in attendance were surely feeling did creep through, however, when Mayor Schaaf took the stage. She was met with some boos, and a shout from the crowd that she should "go home." Schaaf, for her part, told those gathered that she understood their frustration. “It’s OK," the Chron reports her as responding. "This city is going to go through a lot of emotions and one of them is going to be anger. It’s my job to hear that and feel that.”
Meanwhile, donations keep coming in to support the victims of the fire and their families. The New York Times reports that a fundraising drive organized by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has already raised close to $400,000, with a separate drive started by the Oakland A's pulling in approximately $310,000 as of Tuesday morning. “All of these funds will be used specifically for the purposes of supporting to victims of this fire,” Schaaf told the paper.
Flowers and messages lamenting the loss of life were still visible this morning, and will likely remain for some time as the community continues to processes the magnitude of the loss.
Separately, in Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro Monday night, a small vigil was held to remember the three transgender victims in the tragedy: Cash Askew, 22, of San Francisco; Feral Pines, 29, of Berkeley; and Em Bohlka, 33, of Oakland.