UPDATE: A homeless man has been arrested for the arson at the ACCE offices. Chula Vista police say 28-year-old Christopher Treyvoun Jenkins set the fire as part of an ongoing dispute with the property’s management, not for political reasons as was originally thought.
“Given the information that we had and the political moment that we are in, many of us feared that the attack was politically motivated,” the group said in a press release. “We are relieved to hear that this wasn’t the case.
“We note with regret that the arsonist was an unhoused person,” it continued. “The sad irony is that ACCE fights for housing rights. No one should have to suffer from acts of violence like this one. And no one should be subject to the challenges that the most vulnerable sections of our society face as a result of the housing crisis.”
ACCE said donations that poured in from across the country will go toward helping it rebuild in Chula Vista so it can continue serving the community.
A Chula Vista office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a community organizing group closely involved with statewide and local recent recent control initiatives was torched early Saturday morning.
Police have confirmed the fire was a deliberate targeted attack. The fact that the arsonist(s) removed the organization’s bright yellow tee shirts from the building and torched them seperately was, no doubt, a convincing clue.
In recent months ACCE activists across California had been working to pass the statewide ballot measure Proposition 10. The San Diego branch of the organization also focused on a local rent control initiative, Measure W, for National City.
Both initiatives, the statewide Prop 10 and the local Measure W, were rejected by voters.
“We are getting support from around the country and, in California and the Chula Vista Office, from local allies, we have had an outpouring of support,” Joseph Delgado, ACCE’s Los Angeles office director, told L.A. Taco. “As an organization, ACCE is not going to stop doing the work we do, that we believe in, and our members believe in.”
Their community organizing work in the region in addition to housing issues includes advocacy for basic infrastructure improvements in low income communities, budgets for improving social services, immigration, worker justice, and voter turnout.
“ACCE is not a building. ACCE is a movement and a family – it is our members and the incredible organizing we do. If this was meant to intimidate us, we will not back down. We will continue to organize until all of us have a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home,” said Paola Montes-Martinez, the San Diego ACCE Director in statement to the press..
Luckily, the organization was closed, and nobody was injured, but the damage to the ACCE office was extensive. Computers were melted, the furniture was burnt beyond use, and the equipment of the office were completely destroyed.
ACCE is raising funds to re-open their offices at: https://www.acceaction.org/donate
If the past history of right-wing attacks on progressive organizations are any clue, expect a statement from some local official suggesting the group torched itself looking for sympathy. Not one of these sorts of statements has ever proven true, dating back to the days of the original San Diego Free Press offices being torched.