In the early hours of Tuesday, Jan. 14, heavily armed Alameda County sheriffs carrying AK-47 rifles battered down the door of what had once been a vacant house. Inside were a small group of mothers with small children who had been “repossessing” — living in — the building since mid-November.
After first sending in a “robot,” the sheriffs arrested Misty Cross and Tolani, two of the mothers, plus two of their supporters. All were taken to Santa Rita Jail.
This eviction followed a local judge’s ruling against the claim of possession by the Moms, who are part of a group called Moms 4 Housing.
Since the brutal eviction, the Oakland activist community has been seething with disbelief and anger. “What is this police force? What is this military force for?” asked Carroll Fife, director of ACCE Action (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment).
ACCE is one of the local organizations that have been actively supporting the Moms’ struggle for housing. Fife noted that the crowd, both the night before and on Tuesday morning, had been calm and disciplined.
A banner still hanging from the now boarded-up home states that there are four vacant homes for every unhoused person in Oakland. Homelessness has increased by over 47 percent in the last 2 years. Nearly 80 percent of all unhoused people are Black, despite the fact that the Black population has shrunk to 24 percent.
Shortly after the eviction, TurHa Ak, a leader of Community Ready Corps (CRC), which had been providing security for the Moms and demonstrators, addressed the crowd. “They took out our mothers and babies with battering rams. They have no humanity,” he said. Then Ak led the crowd of over 200 people with the chant, “Shame, shame.”
The sheriffs responded to his outspokenness by donning riot gear and pulling out their batons.
The night before, several hundred demonstrators had gone to the house to show support for the Moms and to stop the eviction. Nothing happened that night. Dominique Walker, one of the founders of the Moms group, was not at the house when the eviction happened. She was in the middle of an interview with “Democracy Now!” when she found out about it.
She raced back to the house while the Moms were being arrested. “If you are not angry, you should get angry. Our tax dollars went to this extreme force to evict mothers and children at 5 o’clock in the morning. We are saying no, we are standing with Misty and Tolani,” Walker said.
The Moms were released on bail shortly after being arrested. They are facing misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing the eviction. The Moms and their supporters have vowed to continue their campaign to house all the unsheltered, unhoused people in Oakland.
In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News the day of the arrests, Misty Cross stated unequivocally: “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.”
Fife of ACCE Action summed up the situation succinctly: “We know that the paramilitary police forces are not to protect the people; they are to protect property. The people need to continue to rise up because we are going to break the back of capitalism,” she stated. “We will not be scared; we will continue to support the Moms.”
For more information and to support the group, check out their website at moms4housing.org.