Workers at a Chula Vista nonprofit are stunned and reeling after an arsonist burned down their office.
Around midnight Saturday, an arsonist broke into the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment office on H Street, using lighter fluid to set it on fire. The nonprofit campaigned hard in favor two pro-rent control measures that failed in last week's election. Still, the arsonist apparently set the fire where the group's campaign signs stood.
"This was a happy space, this was a safe space," said Paola Montes-Martinez, ACCE's San Diego director. "It's hate. That's what I smell in here."
The Chula Vista police have opened an arson investigation. And they may have a clue.
A worker at the 7-Eleven next to the office says the suspect stole two cans of lighter fluid, moments before the office went up in flames. Surveillance video has been turned over to police.
Meanwhile, Montes-Martinez says the organization will not be intimidated. On Monday afternoon, officials from Chula Vista, National City and various San Diego nonprofits held a rally for ACCE.
The group will work out of different nonprofit offices in the meantime, with a focus on fighting for tenant rights.