ACCE and RPA Unfairly Target Elderly Latina Landlord

Oscar Garcia

On Friday, June 3rd my aunt was the target of a protest by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a group well known in the City of Richmond for protests against landlords. 


My aunt is 82 years old, a longtime resident of the Iron Triangle, and by no means a wealthy landlord. She worked hard to purchase her triplex in the 1970’s, raised her 10 children there, and over 18 years ago she eventually decided to rent out a unit. The tenant of her 1 bedroom apartment was viewed by my aunt as family, and this was reflected in her $500 monthly rent and frequent babysitting at no cost for over 15 years. In fact, my family has provided the tenant a lot of support and care over the years, going well beyond the typical tenant-landlord relationship. My family has chosen to not make public the reason for the eviction because we are still trying to protect the tenant. I can, however, confirm that it did not involve an increase in rent nor was it over my aunt not wanting to make repairs to the apartment.

When I first learned of the protest I assumed that there had to be a reasonable basis for the ACCE protest. After all, doesn’t ACCE verify information provided to them? As information of the protest and tenant trickled in, it became very clear that the protest was based on misinformation. I received calls all of that Friday afternoon from family who heard from multiple witnesses that a crowd of 20-30 protestors pounded on my elderly aunt’s door demanding to talk to her.

Keep in mind that my aunt lives in the same building as the rental. The tenant allowed the protestors to congregate on my aunt’s private porch while they posed for pictures and threateningly pounded on her door.

After the protest, I was forwarded links to social media posts were ACCE members threatened my aunt with more protests at a City Council meeting. Who protests at the home of an elderly lady that does not speak English without some sort of prior warning? Why didn’t someone from ACCE try talking to my aunt before turning this into fodder for their political agenda?

Blogfoto-2.jpgAs pictures of the protestors came in, I noticed that members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) Steering Committee were front and center as they participated in the protest at my aunt’s home. The protestors included Zak Wear and Marilyn Langlois, both senior members of the RPA’s Steering Committee. In fact, Zak followed up the protest with texts to my aunt’s children demanding that they stop the eviction even though my cousins have nothing to do with it.

I reached out to Zak to determine if he had both sides of the story, and it was clear that he only had a watered down version of events.  Given the discrepancies, Zak said that he would put me in contact with ACCE leadership. At the time of this story’s posting, I have not yet heard back from ACCE. Based on recent filings on behalf of the tenant, my family learned that ACCE is still providing support to the tenant and adding to my aunt’s nightmare.

In a social media post, the protestors also state that their “peaceful protest” was met with a “fierce mob opposition.” My aunt has been living on the same block since the 1960’s and everyone in the area knows my family, so several of her neighbirs stopped by to help after seeing a group of strangers on her porch.

When I spoke with Zak, he also mentioned that several known “criminals” and “drug dealers” confronted the protestors and he wanted to know if I knew them. My family and I have taken offense to these characterizations of our neighbors, especially in a situation where they were standing up for an elderly neighbor. Many of these protestors were obviously not from the Iron Triangle, and it is a shame that they would come here, profile my neighbors and make such comments based on how people look. These comments are shameful and the residents of the Iron Triangle deserve an apology. My neighbors deserve better treatment than what they received from the ACCE protestors.

The protestors have also claimed that the tenant does not feel safe in her home. I live down the street from my aunt and I often see the tenant with friends on my aunt’s porch, which is hardly the behavior of someone living in fear. My elderly aunt, on the other hand, is concerned for her safety and continues to stay at a relative’s home. She is having health issues brought on by the stress of this whole situation. My aunt is a cancer survivor with multiple health issues, and so my family is very upset that my aunt continues to live in fear of further harassment.

My family and I cannot help but wonder how things would be under the ACCE/RPA proposed rent control ordinance, especially if members of the RPA and ACCE are on the rent control board. Evicting a bad tenant is already a pretty complicated process, and having an RPA/ACCE rent control board could make it virtually impossible to evict that tenant. I hope that voters keep that in mind during the November elections.

I would also like to point out to the protestors that intimidation is a form of elder abuse. In this case the intimidation is being used to also influence policy of government, and thus meets one of the criteria used by the federal government to define domestic terrorism.  ACCE and RPA are probably not aware of this, so they need to revaluate their strategies as they set a foundation for what they stand for and whom they stand against.

At the end of the day all my family wants is my elderly aunt at home. As it stands, an 82-year-old lady is currently afraid to be at home for fear of possible harassment from groups that have unfairly targeted her. Is this the New Richmond? Is this the Richmond we want to live in?


As a late addition to this story is a YouTube Video showing the ACCE/RPA supporters of the tenants with their ‘quiet’ protest in front of the resident owner’s home:


Oscar Garcia is a lifelong resident of the Iron Triangle and supporter of many causes in the City of Richmond. 

Showing 20 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Anonymous Anonymous
    followed this page 2016-06-29 12:57:08 -0700
  • Juan Garcia
    followed this page 2016-06-29 07:45:57 -0700
  • Geiselle Garcia
    commented 2016-06-28 22:14:47 -0700
    The elderly landlord targeted by ACCE and RPA is my grandmother and dearest friend. She is one of the most selfless, loving, and nurturing humans on this planet. There is not a living thing in this world that she would willingly harm. I also know Guadalupe and care for her very much. The causes leading up to her eviction and the events of recent have left me truly heavy hearted.

    With a heavy agenda, the ACCE and RPA have selfishly and without facts initiated an unjust proposition against my grandmother with the intent of using her as an example to gain support in the upcoming elections.

    As a result of their recent unwarranted protest and their inability to admit fault, they may, in my opinion, be accused of elderly abuse, terrorism, invasion of privacy, and deformation of character.

    I would like to request that they stop harassing her. She does not deserve to be treated this way. I Ask that both the ACCE and RPA, along with associated members involved in the protest issue a full apology immediately.

    I would also like to a request a FULL retraction of accusations made before, during and after the protest.

    I am a voter in Richmond and I will be taking this incident into account in the November elections.
  • Leila Garcia Vazquez
    commented 2016-06-28 14:02:58 -0700
    Melvin Willis, Marilyn Langlois, and Zach Wear, throughout the course of history, there have been people who were extraordinarily influential and pioneering. So much so that it is difficult to imagine America without them. Through their WORDS & ACTIONS, they have not only shaped America and what it stands for, but they have challenged the “status quo” and advanced civilization as we know it. They are crucial players in the history of America.

    Martin Luther King Jr, without doubt is such a pivotal player. George Livingston, Mayor of Richmond met King in this county and was inspired by him. Great leaders such as King, pave the roads for new generations of leaders. U.S. Representative George Miller called Livingston “a leader and a coalition builder.” Saying “he was able to work across the entire community.”

    My concern regarding ACCE and the RPA is not WHAT the organizations have set out to accomplish but HOW they are proceeding and WHO they put in leadership positions and what TYPE of leadership these people are influencing. John Maxwell said “To add value to others, one must first value others.”

    You three, which are representatives of ACCE and the RPA (and all that this entails) have found every excuse to cover up the truth. At this point in time, I am directly asking the three of you in the names of your organization (and personally) to publically apologize to the Landlord (my mother). I ask that you retract publicly the information because they are untrue facts that have gone unverified by your organizations prior to publishing.

    The rent of the tenant was never raised by $300.00. Her rent was NEVER raised in 18 years. Your allegations are untrue because they are incomplete accounts. The Landlords actions in this eviction process have not violated any laws. This affliction with the Tenant did not begin in March as Willis notes.

    As Oscar Garcia said, we are not disclosing the reason for the eviction to protect the Tenant. I can say that the decision to implement the eviction process took several months of consideration because the tenant was loved as a family member. Life at times forces us to make difficult decisions. In this case scenario, (someone said it best) “the hardest thing and the right thing were the same.”

    I ask that ACCE and the RPA act to clear false and defamatory statements against the Landlord that were published and have exposed the Landlord to public hatred, contempt, and ridicule. Please be advised that defamation can be in many forms including protest, articles, headlines, opinions, photographs, etc. It is requested that the retraction be issued with THE SAME PROMENANCE in which it was exposed and published.

    Moreover the retraction should clearly place the blame on the inaccuracy and unprofessionalism of ACCE and the RPA to verify the information exposed to the public through protest, publishing (the Richmond Sun), and social media.

    Furthermore, a change in policy would be beneficial. Such as adding a new “Garcia clause” which clearly defines that for every tenant complaint the Landlord must be notified in writing and have an opportunity to respond to the tenant complaint. This is standard in the Justice system. Extend this judicial process to your guiding principles. Likewise, guidelines should be established to clearly determine when and if organizations (ACCE and the RPA) should act against any Landlord. Just as not all Landlords are corrupt, not all tenants are honest.

    In moments such as this, there is great opportunity to become the leaders you aspire to be. How will you be remembered? James Humes said, “every time you speak you are auditioning for leadership.” Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Each one of us is at the end of the day in control of our reputation by the decisions we make that are interwoven with our WORDS and ACTIONS.

    On another note, a sincere and heart felt “THANK YOU” to those of you who spoke out … for standing up for a Landlord, an elderly woman, a human being that has been publically and unjustly hurt.
  • Veronica Keeton
    commented 2016-06-27 18:03:33 -0700
    The RPA and ACCE are bold face liars . These groups are far left extremists (worse than the Republican "tea party’) who do not operate based on facts, data, or the advice of experts (which none of them are). People should really fact-check any and everything they say or do. They have a personal agenda that is not good for the City of Richmond or its residents. They have shown their true colors on more than one occasion. Hopefully this shameful behavior will cease, but I doubt it. Vote NO on their November rent control measure or ,I believe, these types of demonstrations will become far worse and it is just a bad measure overall.
  • John Knox
    commented 2016-06-27 16:10:12 -0700
    Langlois’ comment about just wanting to talk to the landlord is obviously a bald-faced lie. The RPA, ACCE and this particular mob were interested in causing a scene, generating publicity and harrassing the landlord. They succeeded in all three, but the publicity was not exactly the kind they probably hoped for. I hope people see these groups for what they really are.
  • Leila Garcia Vazquez
    commented 2016-06-27 15:14:00 -0700
    “All we wanted to do is talk to the landlord.” Claims Langlois….

    Is a chant “We want justice now!” And banging on my 82 year-old mothers door A peaceful request to talk?
  • Marilyn Langlois
    commented 2016-06-27 14:31:33 -0700
    Dear Richmond neighbors—

    From Marcos Bañales and Marilyn Langlois, RPA co-coordinators: "Questions have been raised about RPA policy regarding a number of issues. Rumors sometimes spread incorrect claims about RPA positions. To help clear the air, here are some recent positions that have in fact been taken by RPA:

    1. RPA strongly supports Rent Control as an important tool for stabilizing our city as we seek ways to increase the amount of affordable housing available.
    2. RPA supports a moratorium on rental increases until the matter is decided by voters in November
    3. RPA opposed Richard Poe’s initiatives to bypass City procedures (Measures N and O in June 2016)
    4. RPA supports strengthened civilian review of the RPD including automatic review if someone is killed or seriously injured by the police.
    5. RPA supports Pt Molate development for the benefit of Richmond.
    6. RPA endorsed Bernie Sanders in the California presidential primary election.

    In addition, RPA affiliated city council members have supported amendments to several developments including Terminal One, Shea Project and Central Ave., to better conform to the general plan, zoning and the community. They have also supported dealing with the budget by attempting to get agreements to temporarily cut staff salaries progressively (more from the top) rather than laying off city workers and cutting vital city services.

    The RPA as an organization does not take positions on most things before the city, and the RPA Council members do not vote as a block. So individual RPA members and Council members freely promote different positions that they hold.

    The RPA has never take any position about space-based weapons and several RPA leaders have publicly stated that the issue was not handled well by the Council.

    The RPA has no direct involvement in ACCE’s program to help tenants avoid what they view as unfair evictions, although many RPA members are supporters and members of ACCE, participate in ACCE activities and the RPA supports ACCE generally. Questions about the details of specific ACCE actions and negotiations should be directed to ACCE."

    From Marilyn Langlois, RPA co-coordinator: “I attended the recent gathering on Chanslor to support ACCE and its efforts to advocate for a family who has lived there for 18 years and seek a way to help them stay in their home and avoid being evicted. It was a nonviolent protest, and all we wanted to do is talk to the landlord.”
  • Geiselle Garcia
    commented 2016-06-25 22:19:26 -0700
    Let us all also take a moment to acknowledge that the protesters are not only yelling to an elderly woman, but also to a woman who uses Spanish as her primary language.
    Take another moment to listen to what these protesters are actually yelling at her.
    “Stop the eviction”does not translate to “Queremos Justicia”, which is what they are yelling in Spanish. Which is the only part that she actually understands.

    “Queremos Justica” is unarguably translated as “We want Justice”.


    Imagine being alone in your home with a large group of unknown people yelling at you, demanding justice as though you’ve committed a crime.
    Let’s pretend that this protest was completely “peaceful” even though many neighbors and witnesses have said differently.
    How do you justify any amount of unknown people, gathering Infront of a home, yelling for an elderly women to come out and confront them as though she was a criminal.
    The protestors picked a day and time when she would be alone and defenseless.
    I am 28 years old and I would have been completely terrified had I been in that situation.
    Furthermore, it is agreed that although ACCE and associated parties might have had reasonable intentions, they did not have the appropriate facts needed to support their actions, and their actions were in fact unwarranted and, in every way, forms of terrorism, harassment, and elderly abuse.
  • Geiselle Garcia
    followed this page 2016-06-25 22:15:42 -0700
  • John Knox
    commented 2016-06-25 16:40:25 -0700
    Oscar said it best. Zak, you are front and center in the photo, leading the cheers in the video, and clearly a leader of this mob. You have staked out a reputation for yourself as a rabble rouser, radical activist, and clearly the RPA is solidly behind you and this kind of tactic. And yes, this is relevant to the rent control debate because it proves that RPA treats landlords like they are criminals, and has no shame about it. Give me a break about the “people of color” comment. You no more represent or can speak for the Latino community than Donald Trump! Enough people have asked for an apology for this stunt that it is now clear the RPA thinks it was perfectly OK. Folks, that is what you get with this group!

    Que salen de nuestra comunidad!
  • Oscar Garcia
    commented 2016-06-25 13:54:36 -0700
    Zach, a couple of corrections in your comment below. As the recently posted video shows, your protest was not peaceful and yes very threatening to my 82 year old elderly aunt. At this point I thought you would have understood that, but you are stubbornly relying on the tenant’s account to justify this harassment. An apology is long overdue!

    The video also shows you leading the protestors chants, hardly the behavior of someone that just “showed up” to the protest. You are more involved than you are giving yourself credit for, and that is very obvious in the video.

    You also keep bringing race and/or color into these discussions. Are “protests with communities of color” more hostile or something? Not sure what you meant by that comment. Also, I did not call out the white protestors, I called out the individuals that are associated with a group that is very active in running my city. If you look closely at the video, there were more white people at the protest that I did not call out. I am very disappointed that RPA still thinks it is okay to harass an elderly Latina lady in this manner, and it speaks volumes of what you stand for.

    My aunt still does not feel safe at home, and I blame YOU for that.
  • Don Gosney
    commented 2016-06-25 13:27:40 -0700
    Please note the YouTube link at the bottom of the article that was recently added.
  • Zach Wear
    commented 2016-06-25 09:29:16 -0700
    Oscar Garcia reached out to me to have a phone call for mutual understanding, which is something I was happy to do, even though I’m not the one who organized the protest. I referred him to the event organizers. He then turned around and printed an article about the conversation. He posts screenshots of my text message as if it’s proof of some nefarious, harassing behavior.

    If you look at the photo of those who attended the protest— it’s neighbors. Of course it’s politically juicy to go after one of two non-Hispanic White boys who attended the protest. The people who are decrying “check your facts!!” are watching on as, “domestic terrorism,” “harassment” and “elder abuse” are used to describe a group of neighbors who peacefully demonstrated about an eviction. Look at the picture. Do these people, with their children, really look like they’re a threatening presence to the land lord or the community?

    For those of you who see protest as threatening, I have to ask, have you ever done protest with communities of color?

    Honestly, in posting this I expect rent control opponents to ignore the content above and try to drag me into a back and forth, a he-said-she-said about every micro aspect of the case. I was called by ACCE and asked to participate in a demonstration, and I said yes, that’s all there is to it.
  • Rob Welch
    commented 2016-06-23 19:55:19 -0700
    I think ’ a bunch of extremist radical thugs’ is a pretty accurate description of 20 to 30 people suddenly pounding on a frail and elderly womans door with everyone shouting at her to give up her legal rights and immediately cave in to their demands and mob rule. There you have it straight out of the horses mouth, bravo!
    Funny, I didn’t know that it took that many people to ‘discuss’ something with someone. We used to call that ‘intimidation’. Guess times have changed.
    This is an interesting tactic to chose to reassure property owners and renters alike about the Rent Control and "Homeowners Protection Ordinance. "
    I take it this is an example of how the RPA intends to protect the homeowner. Impressive.
    Presumably this will also do much to encourage ‘good’ landlords like the one here to keep rents low and take risks on iffy tenants. A hopeful sign for renters!
    We used to say that people who try the same thing over and over again expecting a different result was the very definition of crazy.
    But clearly this demonstrates to all what fails everywhere else will surely produce a very different result here in Richmond.
    Welcome to the RPA version of rent controlled Richmond.
    Enjoy your stay!
  • Veronica Keeton
    commented 2016-06-23 17:07:57 -0700
    This is unacceptable and shameful, but typical of the RPA and ACCE. They try to bully their way into getting what they want. Although this does not seem to be a rent increase issue, rents are going up due to tax increases, lack of housing, and increase of cost of living here, and the possibility of rent control and just cause (which are extremely costly). Renters have no concept of what it cost the property owner taxpayers, because they do not receive that bill. They consistently ask for more (by voting yes on every tax measure) but do not want to contribute to any of the cost. They should receive a tax bill too, because they benefit from the services provided by property owners tax payments (fire, police, street, schools, sewers, etc.). Therefore, your rent control and just cause is just another scheme to screw the very taxpayers who support and provide city services to you at no cost. Do your part, stop complaining about your rent increases or pay taxes for the services you receive!!!!
  • Oscar Garcia
    commented 2016-06-23 16:43:39 -0700

    How can you not call radical a group that went to an elderly lady’s home and pounded on her door, with no prior warning, or proof that she even did something wrong??? You are being disingenuous and not wanting to see the real victim in this situation because it makes your friends look bad. What upsets me the most is that you are fine with my aunt not feeling safe at home. Isnt some sort of apology in order?!? Your political agenda seems to be above the safety and well being of the longtime residents of Richmond, and I cant sit back silently while that happens. ACCE and RPA went too far and they deserve to be called out.
  • John Knox
    commented 2016-06-23 11:28:58 -0700

    You say you would “never harass and elderly person” but in fact that what this group did. They butted into a private matter between these parties and staged a noisy demonstration at her home, apparently from the picture even trespassing on the property. Are you saying that is not harassment? Also, your comment about being elderly reminds me of the anti-semite who defends herself by saying “many of my friends are Jewish.” Hogwash!

    I don’t deny that rents are getting expensive. That is due to market forces and the answer is to counter those forces with increased supply. There is zero evidence in this case that it had anything to do with rent increases, and even if it did, so what? This is vigilante activity and is totally unjustified and out of place in our society. You should be ashamed of your organization.

  • Janet Johnson
    commented 2016-06-22 22:27:41 -0700
    I am a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance steering committee, and I think this article unfairly characterizes our community organization as a bunch of extremist radical thugs. We would never harass an elderly person—in fact, a great many of our members are seniors themselves, myself included! Many of my friends, neighbors, and acquaintances are being forced to move out of Richmond because they can’t afford steep rent increases. Like Oscar Garcia’s aunt, they’ve lived here for generations. People’s salaries are not keeping up with the rent increases in this town or anywhere else in the East Bay. Richmond is not the only city with rent control on the ballot in November: San Mateo, Mountain View, and Burlingame voters will have the chance to adopt rent control in November.
  • John Knox
    commented 2016-06-21 01:33:54 -0700
    Unfortunately, this is the kind of stupid stunt you get from extremists like Zak Wear and his ilk at the RPA and ACCE. The don’t want to be confused by the facts, and don’t really care about the impacts of their draconian and extreme policies, as long as they get to promote their radical socialist agenda. Groups like this have no business interfering with the private business issues between these parties and should butt out! There are very robust state laws governing landlord tenant relationships already. I feel sorry for this property owner and hope everyone knows that if the extreme version of rent control being pushed by these folks is passed, this kind of abuse will just get worse. VOTE NO ON RENT CONTROL AND SAY NO TO THE RPA!
Fight your California speeding ticket and win here. Fight your red light camera ticket here. Fight your cell phone ticket here.