OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Armed with a court order, Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies forcibly evicted a group of homeless Oakland mothers from a vacant home early Tuesday that they had been illegally occupying.
A large contingent of deputies including SWAT officers arrived around 5:15 a.m, broke down the door of the home on 2928 Magnolia Street and began removing the women as housing advocates and supporters locked armed in front of the home and jeered, “Shame on you!”
Moms 4 Housing Arrests; Photo By Marisa Kendall, Bay Area News Group via AP
Detained Mom Released From Jail Pledges To Return To Oakland Occupied Home
“The doors (of the home) were barricaded,” said Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly. “They had fortified the doors, making entry into the residence was very difficult…We could not enter the home traditionally with a key or using a locksmith…We had to use a ram and a tremendous amount of force to get through.”
— Jackie Ward (@JackieKPIX) January 14, 2020
Three people inside the home were detained by deputies — Misty Cross, Tolani King and Jesse Turner. A fourth person, Walter Baker, was arrested outside the home. The group’s leader, Dominique Walker, was not at the home at the time the eviction began. She arrived a short time later.
Kelly said in typical cases, deputies are given 180 days to carry out an eviction. In this case, the judge only gave them five working days.
“Over the last week, there has been a tremendous build up in regards to attention for this case,” he said. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of attention, protests and momentum out on Magnolia (Street). The Moms 4 Housing group has garnered a lot of attention in regards to their movement. That put our office in a very tricky position in regards to trying to deal with this situation.”
Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly – Full Press Conferece:
Deputies had said several times over the last few days they hoped to avoid a confrontation with the large group of supporters who had gathered outside the home.
At the time deputies arrived in the pre-dawn hours, Kelly said there were “about five” people out front.
“We had different groups involved in this moment,” Kelly said of the supporters. “Some are associated with some of the violent protests that we have seen throughout the Bay Area and we had reason to believe that had we gone in there at any other time other than the early morning hours it was likely that we would end up in a serious confrontation with those folks.”
Walker said in a statement sent to KPIX 5, “We’ve heard from people all over the world who are inspired by our nonviolent civil disobedience. People who say that our action has shifted their perspective and helped them understand that housing is a human right. We’ve built a movement of thousands of Oaklanders who showed up at a moments notice to reject police violence and advocate for homes for families. This isn’t over, and it won’t be over until everyone in the Oakland community has a safe and dignified place to live.”
When asked if occupying the home was worth it, Walker told reporters and the crowd gathered outside, “This house was a statement on what needs to happen in Oakland. This is a victory.”
Wedgewood Properties released a statement following the eviction.
“Wedgewood is pleased this illegal occupation of its Oakland home has ended peacefully,” the statement read. “That is what we have sought since the start. We will now work with a non-profit to renovate the home giving opportunities to at-risk Oakland youths and splitting the profits with the non-profit so that others may benefit.”
By 12 p.m., a chain link fence had been erected around the home on Magnolia Street. A private security guard has been stationed inside the home.
The four people arrested during the eviction are expected to be released from Santa Rita Jail later Tuesday afternoon.
The sheriff had warned Moms 4 Housing that deputies would be carrying out their court-ordered eviction sometime this week, but they asked the women to leave the home peacefully in a statement.
“The Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the eviction order as mandated by the court,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Monday. “We have reached out to Moms 4 Housing to provide resources and come to a non-confrontational resolution. They have declined our offers. We will continue to try and hope they vacate the home as ordered by the court.”
Southern California-based real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties bought the Magnolia Street house, which had been vacant for two years, for $501,078 at a foreclosure hearing on July 31.