Emotional vigil for Oakland fire victims hears from grieving loved ones and jeers for mayor

A tearful vigil honoring at least 36 people killed in the warehouse inferno in Oakland erupted in jeers as Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke Monday night.

Cries of “get off the stage” and “go home” peppered Schaaf, who has fielded blame for stripping Bay Area artists of affordable housing and studios due to skyrocketing rents.

“You will not be displaced in the place you call home,” Schaaf said, upsetting the crowd gathered next to Lake Merritt.

She added: “Safety is also having a community where you feel safe to be yourself, whether that is trans, queer, artist, expressive … that is how Oakland shows up.”

The crowd settled down as bereaved family members and friends continued to speak, passing around a microphone to remember their loved ones during the nighttime memorial.

The father of Oakland musician Travis Hough, 35, described his son as “an amazing spirit,” who was full of love.

“He loved everybody — all of you people — black, white, gay, transgender, he loved everybody the same. He had no judgements,” said Hough’s dad, Brian Hough.

“He even loved a straight little suburban dad like me.”

His son was one of the first victims found in the debris and identified since the weekend tragedy.

The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau identified 10 more victims as the vigil gathered late Monday.

Oakland residents Em Bohlka, 33, Micah Danemayer, 28, Alex Ghassan, 35, Edmund Lapine, 34, Benjamin Runnels, 32, and Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, died in the dance party blaze, authorities said.

Police also identified victims Chelsea Dolan, 33, and Michela Gregory, 20, both of San Francisco; Feral Pines, 29, of Berkeley; and Jennifer Morris, 21, of Foster City.

Bohlka’s former partner of seven years recalled Em, one of three transgender people killed in the flames, through quiet sobs.

“Her name was Em, and I loved her so much and I will never stop telling her story … that she was trans and proud,” cried Natalie Jahanbani, as scores of supporters raised their glow sticks and flameless candles and cheered.

Ghassan, a filmmaker who split his time between the Bay Area and Brooklyn, shared one last video remembering the East Coast before the Ghost Ship went up in flames.

“Oakland reminds me of #JerseyCity so much at times,” he wrote on Instagram.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) read a statement from President Barack Obama that said America lost “young men and women with their whole futures ahead of them.”

“Today our prayers go out to the people of Oakland, Calif., in the aftermath of this weekend’s deadly fire, one of the worst fires in the state’s history,” Lee said, reciting Obama’s words. “While we still don’t know the full tone of this disaster, we do know that an American community has been devastated.”

In the statement, Obama thanked first responders for digging through charred rubble in the collapsed warehouse.

Toward the end of the vigil, the crowd howled in unity for the victims.


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