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East Oakland artist Favianna Rodriguez on the Ghost Ship fire


The city of Oakland is continuing to sort through the remains of the Ghost Ship, the warehouse in the Fruitvale District that burned down during a party on Friday night. Thirty-six people have now been confirmed dead, with about a third of the building yet to be searched. The site is now an active crime scene.

Fire and law enforcement officials suspended their search because they’re worried the remaining walls of the building could collapse.


Over the weekend, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf held a press conference to discuss how to move forward from one of the nation’s deadliest fires in half-a-century.


SCHAAF: This is a devastating scene. This is complicated, and it's going to take us time to do the methodical, thorough, and professional investigation that these families deserve to find out what in fact happened.

The Alameda County District Attorney and arson inspectors have begun an investigation. Several artists reportedly lived in the space that was not permitted for habitation, and the city had issued a citation last month.

The tragic fire has generated international coverage, and plenty of social media expression from the Bay Area arts community. Artist Favianna Rodriguez was born and raised in Fruitvale district, where the Ghost Ship warehouse is located. She’s also the co-founder of an arts space in East Oakland — the Eastside Arts Alliance.

Yesterday, Rodriguez wrote a Facebook post that both acknowledged the heartbreak of the tragedy, but also sought to rectify what she sees as an oversimplification of Oakland’s arts scene in news articles and opinion pieces.

She spoke with KALW’s Jen Chien from her studio in West Oakland.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete story.

If you have any information relevant to the investigation call the DA hotline at: 1-877-288-2883.

The counseling and logistical support hotline for victims and those close to them is: 1-510-272-6180.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.