Over 100 supporters of Richmond’s legendary underground punk venue Burnt Ramen attended a City Council meeting on Tuesday night and protested outside against the closure of their “safe space,” in what they described as a “witch hunt” by authorities following a deadly fire on Dec. 2 that claimed 36 lives in an Oakland warehouse just 12 miles away.
“They’re taking advantage of the Ghost Ship tragedy to kick people out of their homes,” said Brandon Bailey, a tenant at Burnt Ramen, and one of approximately 25 speakers at Tuesday’s meeting, according to the East Bay Times.
A Periscope video taken by one of the protesters was posted on social media:
Save our artists spaces! There's no city culture without the arts. https://t.co/blIZt3a1JZ
— Corey Zev Holland (@CoreyZev) December 21, 2016
One of the protesters, an environmental activist, held up a sign that read, “Shut down Chevron, not Burnt Ramen,” referring to the oil and gas company that has a tense relationship with the local government.
— Michael Bodley (@michael_bodley) December 21, 2016
Burnt Ramen has long billed itself as an “unsafe place for all ages,” in jest. It is commercially zoned and has hosted hundreds of punk and metal shows, among others, in the past. However, it is not zoned for residence. Thus far, it is reportedly one of two places in Richmond from which artists have been evicted. (The other is Bridge Storage and Arts Studio.)
Tuesday’s meeting and protest was an appeal to reopen the Burnt Ramen venue. The Easy Bay Times notes that Fire Chief Adrian Sheppard said the Richmond is preparing a list of items the performance space needs to improve in order to comply with fire codes.
Six artists lived in Burnt Ramen. Converted warehouses, like the Ghost Ship, have been far more affordable alternatives to skyrocketing rents in Bay Area cities like Oakland, where rents average $2,700 per month.
The owner of Burnt Ramen has also reportedly installed lighted exit signs, added 30 fire extinguishers, and fixed other issues within the venue.
Mayor Tom Butt referred to the venue as the city’s “own Ghost Ship.” However, he had clarified at the time that that while he did not want to shut it down — citing it as “grandfathered in” — he does want to see it inspected every three years. He reportedly also said of the warehouse, “artists don’t deserve special treatment.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz