Over 2,500 people came together Monday evening at a pagoda on Lake Merritt holding candles, glow sticks and flowers to mourn the loss of the people who died in a fire that engulfed the artist space known as the Oakland Ghost Ship Friday night.
Speakers welcomed attendees to the microphone to share their thoughts. Tears filled the eyes of the audience during speeches by members of the community who were close to the victims.
Franchesca Dickerson, 21, shared childhood memories of one the victims, SF State student Michela Gregory, who was confirmed late Monday night to be one of the victims of the tragedy.
Dickerson cried during her speech over the loss of her friend of 17 years, commenting how supportive Gregory always was to her.
Parents of another victim, Travis Hough, a 35-year-old Oakland musician, held a photo of their son and spoke about him to the crowd of mourners.
“All that love him will grieve with us,” said his mother, Judy Hough.
Speeches of remembrance continued as the area around the pagoda filled with people to show their support. They were soon joined by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
As Pastor Ruben Rios of Grand Advent Church in Oakland introduced Mayor Schaaf, Schaaf was shouted down by the crowd with obscenities, boos and cries of blame for the lack of affordable housing.
Schaaf attempted to settle the crowd, saying she understood that grief was expressed in many different forms.
“My job is to keep this city and this community together right now because believe me, we need you to stay together,” Schaaf said. “This community is going to grieve in many ways and that is my job to absorb all of that. As we move forward right now, our focus has to be on those who we know are lost and those we know are going to learn have been lost.”
Lee read a statement from President Obama about the fire which read, “Oakland is one of the most diverse and creative cities in our country, and as families and residents pull together in the wake of this awful tragedy, they will have the unwavering support of the American people.”
Lee added that Oakland is a resilient city and that the community will overcome the tragedy and come out stronger than before.