Earlier this summer, several families in Redwood City, located south of San Francisco and San Mateo, began organizing against an impending eviction of their apartment complex. Organizing a series of rallies, protests, vigils, and other events aimed at putting pressure on the landlord and the local city council, the group of families, calling themselves, Clinton Ave United, or Clinton Ave Unidos, became part of a chorus of resistance against displacement and evictions in the Bay Area. Through it all was 14 year-old Gabriel Banuelos, who was a key organizer throughout the fight, helping to organize protests and media. Through the use of direct action, families who did not move from the building on their scheduled eviction date were able to get a few months rent free, full deposits paid, and money to relocate. Rents in Redwood City has skyrocketed recently, providing the incentive for landlords to displace long-term residents, cash-in on the tech boom, and leave evicted residents with nowhere to go that they can afford. Wanting to know more, we caught up with Gabriel to discuss Clinton Ave United.
FW: Can you tell us about the apartment complex on 910 Clinton St in Redwood City? How many people live there? How long have you lived there?
Gabriel Banuelos: 910 Clinton Street is a 18 unit complex. There were 18 families living here with approximately 31 children combined. I have lived here for about 10 years.
FW: What was the reaction by those living there to the eviction? How did
910 Clinton United come into being?
Gabriel Banuelos: When we first got the eviction notice we were all shocked and that same day we got together and planned what we were going to do.
The name 910 Clinton United was made to show that we were united and that nothing was going to bring us down and that we were going to fight until the end.
FW: People at the apartment complex held protests against the eviction and carried out other actions. How were these things organized?
Gabriel Banuelos: At our first TV appearance with Univision they called an organizer with SFOP/PIA her name was Aracely Mondragon. We scheduled a meeting with her to see what we could do. At our meeting we discussed what were the different ideas and we came up with a Vigil and Press Conference.
FW: We’ve read that 7 out of the 18 families refused to leave. How was
this decision made? What kept more families from wanting to stay?
Gabriel Banuelos: Yes only 7 families of the 18 families stayed. It wasn’t their choice they just had nowhere to go. The families that stayed don’t meet the requirements to rent or can’t pay the rent somewhere else.
FW: We’ve read that the 7 families that did not leave 910 Clinton St were
allowed to stay until October and have been given some assistance in
moving. Can you tell us more?
Gabriel Banuelos: The families that stayed were given until October 12th. They were also given their full security deposit. Will live rent free until the deadline. Will be given fair compensation.
FW: You just started high school but you have become as some news sources wrote, the “spokesperson” for 910 United. How was this experience for you as a young person?
Gabriel Banuelos: I enjoyed being able to work with fantastic people. Got to meet new people and learned many things that will be useful in High School and in life.
FW: What ways did those not living (both outside groups and individuals) at 910 Clinton St support your struggle?
Gabriel Banuelos: All of the residents at 910 Clinton were like family so when they moved they still supported us by spreading the word of our events and they always encouraged us to keep fighting.
FW: What advice would you give to other young people who are going through a similar experience of eviction?
Gabriel Banuelos: If their families is going through the same thing that they should fight for whats right. Many youth think that they don’t have a voice in their community and that they don’t matter they all do we are the future of the community and of California.
FW: Is there anything that people can do to support the residents of 910
Gabriel Banuelos: The fight at 910 Clinton is over, but there are still many families in the Peninsula being evicted. Help your community. Go to city council meetings, go to SFOP/PIA events, and spread the word.
FW: Thanks for talking with us, anything else you’d like to add?
Gabriel Banuelos: Thank you for your support from all of us at 910 Clinton and we will keep on fighting for whats right.