An Oakland man is looking at being evicted on Christmas Day weeks after the new owner of his home slapped a “Trump – Make America Great” sign on it saying it’s “patriotic.”
In an interview with the East Bay Express, 63-year-old Jahahara Alkebulan-Ma’at claims he has lived in his home since 1995 when he moved from Chicago.
“On Christmas Day I’m being evicted. Can you believe that?” said Alkebulan-Ma’at, adding that he went on disability in 2014 which helps to cover his rent.
According to a partner in the redevelopment company that recently bought the property, the units built upon it are illegal and must be torn down by order of the city, although the city officials dispute that.
Adding insult to injury, weeks after Alkebulan-Ma’at received his eviction notice, new owner Eugene Gorelik had a massive sign constructed on the property reading “Trump — Make America Great Again.”
According to social activist Alkebulan-Ma’at, the sign was eventually stolen after neighbors complained, but Gorelik replaced it with a new one, with an added” Give him a chance” on the bottom. The new sign was then affixed to front of his home and surrounded by barbed wire, with spotlights shining on it so it can be seen from the highway.
Two additional signs warn that the larger Trump one is now under video surveillance.
Asked why he placed the signs, barbed wire and cameras on the property, Gorelik explained in an email that he was “upset by all the protests and hate” at recent Oakland-area anti-Trump rallies, before adding, “What’s to complain about. Being patriotic?”
As for the assertion that city wants the buildings torn down, a city inspector said that the only complaints they have had about the property was the addition of the barbed wire.
“I’ve been out there taking photographs,” said city zoning inspector Chris Candell.
In his defense, Gorelik says that the company he represents attempted to buy Alkebulan-Ma’at out of his home when they purchased the property, but was turned down.
Since the eviction notice was served, Gorelik claims that he has sent two checks totaling $3,646 as a buyout, with Alkebulan-Ma’at admitting he hasn’t cashed them.
“I’ve gone above and beyond what any other landlord would in terms of giving Jahahara advanced soft notice of our intentions even before we purchased and assistance finding alternative housing,” Gorelik wrote. “Jahahara has rejected [all offers.]”
While the city has said it would work with Gorelik to make the units legal, he was unclear what his plans are for the property after moving everyone off.
As for Alkebulan-Ma’at, he said he would move if he could find affordable housing in the pricey Bay Area.
“My unit hasn’t been determined illegal yet,” he said. “I’m a senior, I’ve been here 21 years, and I shouldn’t have to leave — I shouldn’t be evicted.”
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