Filed under: Action, Housing, Police, Repression, Southwest
On January 14th, a massive, militarized eviction by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department ended a nearly two month long takeover of a formerly vacant property by the collective, Moms 4 Housing, in West Oakland. Despite the raid, the movement surrounding it shows no signs of letting up, as grassroots anger grows at law enforcement and the deepening housing crisis.
— imperfect produce ? (@LeeHepner) January 14, 2020
On Monday, January 13th at around 6:30 PM, word went out that a locksmith had been seen outside the occupied West Oakland home which had been re-appropriated by a collective of formally houseless African-American mothers and their children. The lock smith explained that they were waiting for the police and that an eviction was going to be carried out that night. Within minutes, through text and social media, people mobilized and surround the house in solidarity.
Protected by dozens of cops in armor and riot gear, flunkies are packing in plywood to seal off every window from the inside.
Now 3 arrests reported.
Noise from news choppers overhead.
— IWOC Oakland (@iwoc_oakland) January 14, 2020
Soon, the crowd swelled to between 200-300 people, with a line of supporters locking arms in front of the house in defense. Supporters also dropped off piles of food and supplies, while both the mothers inside and supporters outside gave short speeches and statements of solidarity. As the evening wore on, word came down that the Sheriffs were claiming that the eviction would not be carried out that night and the crowd largely dissipated. Over all, the mobilization of hundreds of supporters in a matter of minutes was seen as a key victory and a sign of the movement’s growing strength.
The early morning eviction of @moms4housing has got to be the most expensive eviction every carried out in Alameda County, costing tens of $1000s.
Wedgewood will certainly get a bill from the Sheriff.
Perhaps to Wedgewood it's just a cost of doing business.
— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) January 14, 2020
The scene however quickly changed from elation to horror, as in the early morning of January 14th, a massive amount of Alameda County Sheriffs, many armed with full on military and riot control gear, assault weapons, a robot, and armored vehicles, arrived in front of the home with guns drawn to serve the eviction. An Indybay journalist at the scene reported that the riot police were armed with AR-15s and blocked off both sides of the street in order to ensure that no supporters would gain access to the house. After using a battering ram to break down the door, authorities sent in a robot and proceeded to make several arrests, including two mothers who were living in the house along with four supporters. Despite the immensely militarized police presence, Indybay reports that a crowd still managed to gather in front of the house in solidarity and to document arrests. Police helicopters and drones monitored and filmed the area during the raid.
The Oakland home occupied by @moms4housing is 1 of 130+ homes Wedgewood owns in the Bay area through a handful of different LLC's. Solano County not pictured. We traced dozens of LLC's to Wedgewood using a database of deed records. More on Wedgewood here : https://t.co/KWU8YC6xZC pic.twitter.com/FWiqrACR1U
— Michael Bott (@TweetBottNBC) January 14, 2020
As The Mercury News wrote:
The eviction process culminated in a tense and dramatic scene Tuesday. Dozens of sheriff’s office personnel, including a tactical team wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying rifles, showed up at the house and blocked off the surrounding streets. They broke down the door — which Moms 4 Housing had barricaded — with a battering ram, then sent a robot into the house to search it for possible threats.
— Indybay (@Indybay) January 14, 2020
After making arrests and boarding up the now vacant home, law enforcement then piled into vans as people surrounded the vehicles and began banging on the sides while chanting. One of the mothers who had been living at the house, Dominique Walker, then gave a statement to the media. When the raid began, she had been at a nearby radio station speaking live on Democracy Now! when she received word that the raid was taking place and hurried back to the home in West Oakland.
Thank you all. This movement is just beginning. pic.twitter.com/n74OzJMgsg
— Moms 4 Housing (@moms4housing) January 14, 2020
Dominique gave the following statement to supporters and the press:
Following the raid, supporters then traveled to the Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin, California, and waited until all 0f those arrested had been booked and released. Supporters then returned to the house in West Oakland where speeches were given and a block party was organized. People involved in the campaign also reported that family members of the mothers involved in the housing takeover have recently been targeted by Alameda County Sheriffs. According to a member of ACCE, a local non-profit, police pulled over and began harassing the son of one of the mothers and ended up arresting him; placing him in the local jail in a cell where he was attacked by 15 other prisoners.
The violence we saw today was just the culmination of a months long targeted campaign of violence against @moms4housing. @CalOrganize Director Carrol Fife @fifeca explains how Misty Cross and her family have been followed, harassed, & targeted in the days before the eviction. pic.twitter.com/l3Lzt9WHso
— Lizard #NoWarOnIran ? (@pomegranatjewce) January 14, 2020
— Kaiden (@KaidenNiaAli) January 15, 2020
Despite the dramatic showing of militarized police violence against Moms 4 Housing, it is clear that a grassroots movement has mobilized to defend their struggle and moreover, there is massive amount of community support for their direct action. People across the US are feeling the crippling affects of the combination of low paying jobs and the increasing cost of living. What happens next remains in the hands of those on the streets, but one can only hope that this struggle grows and more people begin to re-appropriate housing and the means of existence.