Alameda Reviewing Policies After Rent Control Meeting Erupts in Violence

A rent control meeting that turned violent in Alameda now has city officials calling for change in the way people are heard.

The special meeting late Wednesday to discuss rising rents and a possible moratorium on rate increases erupted in chaos, resulting in the arrest of two men after they attempted to force their way into city council chambers. In addition, the assistant city manager was injured in the scuffle and hospitalized.

"The people who came and demanded to speak right then, that was not protocol," Mayor Trish Spencer said. "Does it cross the line of civil disobedience? It could very well be that."

Video posted online shows officers pushing through the crowd in the hall and taking a man down to the ground. The man's nose started bleeding when he was taken down, leaving blood on the floor.

Spencer does not think Alameda police used excessive force and feels it was an unfortunate incident for a very real problem: skyrocketing rents in the small East Bay city.

"Rents in Alameda have risen over 50 percent over the last four years," said Catherine Pauling, Alameda Rent Coalition spokesperson. "An 8 percent rent increase may not sound like much, but an extra $100 a month when you're already at the water line, you're choosing between heat, you're choosing between food in order to keep a roof over your head."

Landlord Mark Landreth said the violence that erupted from Wednesday's meeting is taking away from the issue.

"Landlords rely on the renters income to live on social security and disability doesn't cut it," Landreth said. "Not every landlord is mega rich or has 100 rentals."

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report. 

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