Two Oakland Moms Were Evicted By Police In Riot Gear And Armored Vehicles

Supermajority Education Fund

January 20, 2020

Early Tuesday morning, sheriff’s deputies in riot gear and military fatigues brought an armored vehicle to a West Oakland home. A group of unhoused mothers who call themselves Moms4Housing had moved into the abandoned house in November to send the message that housing is a human right.

Three people were inside the house when the police arrived, but four were arrested: Tolani King and Misty Cross, mothers living in the house, and one of the people protesting the eviction, Jesse Turner. Walter Baker, another protester, was arrested after he refused to move outside the perimeter of the house. They were all released on bond on Tuesday.

On Monday night, the moms sent out a mass text alert to hundreds of people and tweeted that sheriffs were on their way and that they would be evicted soon. Protesters started showing up at the moms’ home around 7 p.m. 

Sgt. Ray Kelly from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told Supermajority News that they arrived “a couple hours earlier” than they normally would for an eviction given “the national attention” on the case and arrived when they had a “good idea” children weren’t there. According to Kelly, the operation cost more than $10,000 but he couldn’t provide an exact number yet.

“They sent tanks and men dressed as soldiers with machine guns for some mothers and babies just looking for a safe place to live. They never sent any tanks to stop the big banks who stole half the houses in West Oakland in 2008,” The group Moms4Housing said in an emailed statement to Supermajority News. The police “showed people the truth,” the group added. “The police aren’t here to protect the people, they’re here to protect corporations.”

The population of unhoused people in Oakland has risen by 47 percent in the last two years. In California, there are 151,278 unhoused people, according to last year’s count, which is a 17 percent increase from 2018. People who are living on the street, in cars, or in shelters in the state are disproportionately Black and more likely to be in the LGBTQ community. Housing insecurity is still a big problem outside of California as well. Major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., and Seattle have growing populations of unhoused people. 

Moms4Housing said that they are done trying to work through the “system of white supremacist capitalism that created the conditions that forced our families into homelessness” to find housing.

“We’ve all been on the wait lists, we’ve jumped through the hoops. We work multiple jobs. We’ve done everything right. But now that we’ve been evicted, some of us are back in the shelter system with our kids, which is no place for children to grow up. Our elected representatives have not taken this crisis seriously and created systems that would work for people instead of big banks and corporations.”

The group added, “We’ve heard from people and organizations all over the world who are inspired by our movement.”

Update, Jan. 21: On Monday, Moms4Housing announced that they reached an agreement with Wedgewood Inc. to negotiate the sale of the house from which they were evicted through Community Land Trust. The moms have advocated for this option for months. Moms4Housing, Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s (D) office, and ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), an organization focused on racial and economic justice, are also having discussions about legislation “that would assert the legal right to housing,” according to a statement from ACCE released to Supermajority News on Monday.