Moms 4 Housing members evicted from West Oakland house, arrested

Happened around 5:30am…and the sheriffs think they did a ‘great job’. See site for some photos / video.

Moms 4 Housing members evicted from West Oakland house, arrested

OAKLAND — Four people were arrested before dawn Tuesday morning at the West Oakland house where Moms 4 Housing activists had been squatting, while a small crowd of protesters stood by, chanting, filming and sometimes arguing with deputies.

Members of the group had taken over an empty West Oakland house to call attention to the city’s homelessness crisis, and to protest speculators buying homes and leaving them vacant. Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the Magnolia Street house around 5:15 a.m. and arrested Mistry Cross and Tolani King, who had been living inside the house, as well as supporters Jesse Turner and Walter Baker. Cross, King and Turner were arrested inside the house, and Baker was arrested outside. All are being booked into Santa Rita Jail on misdemeanor resisting and obstructing charges, Sgt. Ray Kelly said during a media briefing Tuesday morning.

While the sheriff’s office typically enforces evictions during business hours, deputies in this case decided to go in the early morning to avoid a potential confrontation with the throngs of supporters that congregated around the house all day Monday, Kelly said.

“We had to think outside the box a little bit, because this was not a typical eviction,” he said.

Moms 4 Housing members had barricaded themselves inside, and deputies had to use a battering ram and a “tremendous amount of force” to break down the barriers and enter the house, Kelly said. Deputies also deployed a robot to scout out the inside of the house before entering. There were no injuries, and once deputies got inside, no force was used in making the arrests, Kelly said.

“I think we handled this very professionally,” he said. “I think we did a great job.”

The effort cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the sheriff’s office is considering sending the bill to the property owner — real estate investment company Wedgewood, Kelly said.

Just after 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Moms 4 Housing sent out a mass text message to its supporters, asking them to come to the Magnolia Street house because deputies were banging on the door. Shortly after, deputies handcuffed Cross, King and Turner and led them out of the house.

As she was being led into an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office van, Cross said the fight wasn’t over.

“What happens next is the next movement,” she said. “This is only a piece of it. We’re going to be out in a minute. we’ll be back. We’ll be right back.”

Founder Dominique Walker was not arrested, but ran after the other members as they were being loaded into sheriff’s office vans, visibly upset and having to be restrained by Carroll Fife, regional director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, who has been working with Moms 4 Housing. Walker did not answer questions from the media.

The women being arrested said their children, who also had been living in the house with them, were safe.

Deputies blocked off the streets around the house before carrying out the eviction, in an effort to keep back the throngs of supporters who have flocked there in the past to support Moms 4 Housing. By 7 a.m., several dozen supporters had shown up anyway, and were chanting next to a line of deputies in riot helmets. As the protesters chanted, law enforcement boarded up the front door of the house, which still had Moms 4 Housing banners hanging outside.

The sheriff’s office plans to hold a briefing on the arrests at its San Leandro substation later this morning, according to Sgt. Ray Kelly.

This is a developing story. Check back for more detail

(Courtesy of Adrienne Fong.)

Share This Item
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *