Homeless Oakland mothers released after arrest, eviction from vacant home

ByAmy Hollyfield and Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Oakland homeless moms evicted from vacant house
Deputies have evicted a group of mothers and their children who have been living in a home in Oakland illegally since November.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Alameda County Sheriff's Deputies evicted a group of mothers this morning who had taken over a vacant house in Oakland.

Deputies moved in at 5 a.m. and said it took a battering ram to get inside.

"The doors were barricaded and making entry into the doors was very difficult. They had come up with a system and a way to secure those doors to make them difficult for us to enter the home," said Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly.

RELATED: Oakland moms refuse to leave vacant house, sheriffs say they will enforce eviction

Moms Misty Cross and Tolani King along with supporter Jesse Turner were arrested for resisting eviction. A fourth person, Walter Baker, was arrested for obstructing officers.

Demonstrators outside the home chanted "Let the moms go!" After the arrest, a fence was put up around the property and security guards were stationed inside.

The four were jailed on misdemeanor charges and later released.

"Man, I'm fighting this fight! Period!!" shouted Cross. "Now we have a bigger fight because this is a bigger movement. They shouldn't have put us in there."

The mother who first moved into the home in November, Dominique Walker, was not at the house at the time of the eviction. She says she was doing an interview in Berkeley.

"I was live on Democracy Now when this happened so I believe this was strategic. They waited until they saw me on air to come in," she said outside the home on Magnolia Street.

She says no children were at the home at the time of the police activity.

Observers protested peacefully outside the home and questioned why a tactical team in riot gear was needed to evict homeless mothers.

"They had full fatigues on with AR-15s like what were they intending to do? What did they think the people here were intending to do," asked Carol Fife, an activist outside the home.

RELATED: Property owner offers to pay for move, shelter homeless moms occupying vacant West Oakland house

"Knowing some of the threats that were out there and some of the things that had been said, we had to have people on standby in the event of a severe emergency, including a ballistic vehicle in case we had to do rescues of citizens or people in the home or officers on scene," explained Sgt. Kelly.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf weighed in.

"It seemed heavy-handed to show up in military outfits with guns and a battering ram," she said. "I'm relieved to hear children were not present when this happened."

A spokesperson for the company that owns the home says the eviction was the right outcome.

"It is the best solution. This home belongs to Wedgewood and obviously the solution to Oakland's housing crisis isn't having people stealing other people's homes through illegal break-ins and seizures," said Wedgewood spokesperson Sam Singer.

The home is boarded up and has the eviction notice on the front door. But the house still has a banner hanging from the front porch and one in front of the home that says, "We stand with the moms."

When asked if she plans to find another vacant home to move into, Walker said "no comment."

"We are fighting until everyone has shelter," she said.

Wedgewood plans to remodel the home and then sell it.

Wedgewood has released the following statement:

"Wedgewood is pleased the illegal occupation of its Oakland home has ended peacefully. That is what the company has sought since the start. We will now work with a non-profit, Shelter 37, to renovate the home giving opportunities to at-risk Oakland youths and splitting the profits with the non-profit so that other youths may benefit. The solution to Oakland's housing crisis is not the redistribution of citizens' homes through illegal break-ins and seizures by squatters. That is the violent, dangerous, and unsuccessful path taken by this handful of activists and supported by three Oakland city council members and the Oakland Community Land Trust. Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Rebecca Kaplan, and Dan Kalb must take real steps to address Oakland's drug abuse, mental illness, and homeless issues. Bas, Kaplan and Kalb and the Oakland Community Land Trust shouldn't participate in media stunts with activists Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Mothers for Housing. Instead, they should concentrate on finding a non-violent and progressive way to address the Oakland housing crisis that doesn't rely on the theft of other people's homes to solve their problems and address this serious issue."