Update as of Nov. 14: The Chula Vista Police Department has apprehended a suspect in the Nov. 10 office fire. The individual is a homeless man who apparently confessed to the crime after being ID’d in security footage.

In the early hours of Nov. 10, an arsonist targeted a local office of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in Chula Vista, Calif., resulting in the total loss of the office. The attack on ACCE’s office came three days after the end of a difficult campaign for rent control Measure W in nearby National City, Calif. According to the San Diego Police Department, the arson was a “deliberate, targeted attack,” and as of this writing the assailant has not been caught.

According to the ACCE Action statement detailing the attack, organizers stated:

“We are not 100% clear yet who did this and how, but we are clear that this is clearly [an] attack on ACCE 3 days after an election where we led a fight to protect tenants with Prop 10 and Measure W with rent control. … If this is an act to intimidate us, we will not back down. They just put more fire under us to keep going.”

Party for Socialism and Liberation member and ACCE canvasser Jose Cortes had this to say:

“This attack is an escalation of violence against working-class movements here in San Diego County, but the community will not be intimidated. We saw corporate landlords actively intimidating their tenants, threatening eviction if rent control passes. Despite their wealth and bullying thousands of voters turned out in support of rent control, demonstrating that the tides are turning and their rent-gouging days are numbered. This attack highlights the fear they have of our movement, a movement of working-class families fed up with their exploitation.”

National City is a relatively small working-class enclave adjacent to Chula Vista and south of San Diego. The community is overwhelmingly renters, with nearly 70 percent of families living in National City being tenants.

After placing Measure W, a rent stabilization community initiative, on the ballot in February, ACCE set to work canvassing the neighborhoods and building support among the tenants for rent control. Corporate landlords spent over $300,000 against Measure W, coming out to roughly $12 per National City voter. Tensions during the campaign had flared previously, with community-led direct actions targeting greedy eviction company San Diego Evicts and anti-tenant Mayor Ron Morrison. These direct actions highlighted the greed and callousness of corporate landlords and their cronies.

Measure W fell short of outright victory by only 500 votes, but organizers have pledged to continue the fight. The arson attack on Nov. 10 highlights the levels of violence opponents of rent control are willing to use against working-class movements. The membership of the local ACCE office is made up of working-class Chicano people, many of whom commute daily across the international border from Tijuana because the high rents have driven them out of San Diego County. The political violence of the opposition has only steeled the resolve of local organizers fighting for rent control and reinforced the necessity of a mass mobilization of tenants against landlords willing to do anything to hold on to their ill-gained wealth.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation will continue to support grassroots political efforts like these to lessen the impact that the capitalist system has on working-class people and will continue to stand with the masses in their organizing efforts in confronting racist, ruling-class attacks against poor people of color.

Press conference denouncing the arson attack

LIVE at the scene of the fire: late Friday night 3 days after the election an arsonist broke in to the ACCE San Diego office, lit it on fire and destroyed it. Watch our live press conference to learn more.

Gepostet von ACCE Action am Montag, 12. November 2018