OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A makeshift encampment in front of Oakland’s City Hall was dismantled early Monday and 22 protesters arrested, ending a weekend protest over housing and homelessness in the East Bay city.
Police and city workers began to gather outside of the so-called “Housing Justice Village” erected on Frank Ogawa Plaza on Sunday evening, warning housing advocates they faced arrest if they did not remove their tents.
Activists began pitching their tents on the plaza Sunday, an action which took Oakland officials by surprise. The group swelled to some 25 tents and about 70 to 80 people, according to a press release from the city.
Protesters were told camping in the plaza violated multiple municipal ordinances, and that they could resume the protest during daytime hours, according to the city.
“Housing and homelessness are the most urgent crises facing our community, region, and state,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf in a prepared statement. “Our shared priority is to create more safe shelter spaces for our unsheltered residents and build more affordable housing immediately. Oakland supports every resident’s right to free speech and to protest peacefully in our city.”
“People will see and hear first-hand that (there) are deep discrepancies between what the mayor and her team claim and what is actually happening in the streets,” protest leader Needa Bee said in a statement posted to social media.
Among the several dozen protesters was 71-year-old Kelsey Brenner.
“I can’t sit by and watch what’s happening,” she told the East Bay Times. “The city is criminalizing homelessness and is not providing enough low-income housing … I look around at all these high rises going up at an Oakland … my own daughter can’t live here because it’s too expensive.”
As the hours passed, a standoff began between protesters who refused to dismantle their makeshift encampment and Oakland police. Early Monday, police and city work crews swooped in.
Of the 22 people arrested, nine had Oakland addresses.
“We are protesting because there are a bunch of empty houses and a bunch of homeless people and we think that people should have homes,” protester Juliette Hadid told KPIX 5 as she was being led anyway in plastic handcuffs.
The city crews loaded up tents and other items from the encampment on trucks. Protesters were told they could claim their belongings later. Those arrested were transported to Santa Rita Jail.