Deputies evict squatting Oakland moms in pre-dawn raid
In an early morning raid, sheriff's deputies evicted a group of mothers illegally occupying a vacant house in Oakland.
Multiple videos posted by news organizations online show the mothers being pulled out of the house and put in handcuffs by deputies just before 6 a.m. Protesters stood outside chanting "shame on you" at the deputies.
Alameda County sheriff's deputies arrested two women and a man during the eviction, a sheriff's spokesman confirmed. KQED News reported the three arrested were mothers Tolani King and Misty Cross and activist Jesse Turner, all of whom are being charged with obstructing a police officer in the course of their duties. The home's doors and windows were subsequently boarded up by officers.
The women's children were removed from the home on Monday night, according to KCBS Radio.
Wedgewood Inc. bought the property for $501,000 at a foreclosure auction last year. They had planned to flip the 1,500-square-foot property, which is on Magnolia Street in West Oakland.
The women and their children moved into the three-bedroom house without permission in November, partly to protest the methods of speculators who they say snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite the housing crisis.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Patrick McKinney ruled on Friday that the women do not have the right to stay and must leave within five days.
McKinney allowed lawyers for one of the women, Dominique Walker, and her recently formed collective, Moms 4 Housing, to make their case. They argued that housing is a right and that the court must give the women the right to possess the house, especially because it sat vacant for so long and the alternative would be to send the women to live on the streets.
The judge denied Walker's request to offer expert testimony on the right to housing through federal and international law.
“The court recognizes the importance of these issues but, as raised in connection with Ms. Walker's claim of right to possession, finds that they are outside the scope of this proceeding," McKinney wrote.
In recent days, supporters of the women have gathered in front of the house.
Wedgewood Inc. offered to house the women for two months through Catholic Charities and pay for moving expenses. The sheriff's office also offered services. Moms 4 Housing rejected the offers.
Moms 4 Housing issued a statement on Twitter after the eviction: "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."
Wedgewood also released a 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 case reflects California's severe housing shortage and growing numbers of homeless people. Federal officials said last month that an uptick in the country's homeless population was driven entirely by a 16% increase in California, where the median sales price of a home is $500,000 and is even higher in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Amy Graff is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her: email@example.com.