There was always this dark vicious side underneath. That was never not present. Almena promoted himself as a spiritual man and says on social media he’s a ‘student of the shadows’. He purported to worship the Hindu gods Shiva and Kali. In Hinduism our present time is Kali Yuga – ruled over by Kali, the demon who is the source of all evil. Victims: The lost of the warehouse tragedy. Top row L-R Donna Kellogg, Nick Gomez-Hall, Travis Hough, Nicole Siegrist aka Denalda Nicole, Chelsea Faith Dolan, Barrett Clark. Second row from top: Feral Pines, Micah Danemayer, David Cline, Chase Wittenauer aka Nex Iguolo, Pete Wadsworth, Jonathan Bernbaum. Third row from top: Ara Jo, Cash Askew, Sara Hoda, Draven Mcgill, Michela Gregory, Johnny Igaz. Fourth road from top: Alex Ghassan, Hanna Ruax, Edmond Lapine, Em Bohlka, Jennifer Kiyomi Taouye, Jenny Morris. Fifth row from top: Ben Runnels, Alex Vega, alana Kane – Jennifer Mendiola, Amanda Allen (Kershaw), Griffin Madden, Joey Matlock aka Joey Casio.
Details of the sinister and sometimes cult-like atmosphere around the ‘artist’ who ran the Oakland warehouse can be revealed. Derick Ion Almena was in charge of the illegal enclave, described variously as a collective or a commune, where 36 died in Friday night’s devastating fire. He is facing a criminal investigation into the lead-up to the fire, which happened in a warehouse filled with junk and where Almena was raising his three children with his wife, Micah Allison. Now details can be disclosed of the power Almena exercised over those who lived in the space he illegally rented to them, to the extent that one described him as ‘a cult leader’. Almena, who appeared on NBC’s Today Show on Tuesday in a testy exchange with Matt Lauer in which he ranted about being ‘sorry’ but offered no explanations for the conditions in the warehouse, was accused of using threats of violence to get his way, and being able to flip from charming to threatening in a heartbeat.
I had never been there before. There was an argument over money and Almena tried to beat my friend up and I videoed it on my phone. Almena ordered his people to attack me. They beat me up as well. I called the police but nothing was done. The man claims Almena made threats after the incident and that’s why he filed a restraining order, which ultimately wasn’t granted. I showed up in court but it didn’t work out,’ he said. Did REFRIGERATOR cause deadly Oakland fire? Danielle Boudreaux, who has known Almena and his wife Allison for eight years, said Almena was charismatic and easily influenced those around him. But she said she saw a ‘change’ in him due to drug use. I knew Derick very well. The drugs made a big change in him. He was always this polar opposite person. One hand could be charming, making you feel you have great ideas, very able to persuade people in that way.
They would make it incredibly difficult, I had to call the police to get an escort out of there. Almena called the warehouse alternately the Ghost Ship or the Satya Yuga collective. Satya Yuga is a reference to Hindu theology, which sees it as the golden age at the start of time. He wanted you to believe the whole Satya Yuga philosophy, spiritual, lyrical. It wasn’t a religion but it was a belief. He’d give these big speeches, on and on and on. It was all poetic, a lot of it didn’t make any sense. Mack, who lived in the warehouse for four months, leaving in February 2015, said Almena considered himself a Yogi – a person dedicated to yoga practice and the tantra traditions of Hinduism. Mack said Almena had a close circle of people around him who followed his commands. Almena called the warehouse alternately the Ghost Ship or the Satya Yuga collective. He provided the appearance of a positive vibe, there was the words and the music and the art.
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