Perhaps this was the Alameda County Sheriff's Department's idea of ending things peacefully and without incident, but two of the homeless mothers who have been squatting at a West Oakland residence since November were met with a militaristic raid early Tuesday morning.
The operation began just after 5:30 a.m., and activist and group spokesperson Dominique Walker was not among those arrested, as the Mercury News reports. It appears that some fore-warning of the eviction operation must have been given, because not all of the women were at home at the time of the raid, and the children who had been living there were missing as well — the group assured supporters and the media that they were someplace safe.
The scene was a dramatic one, with a battering ram at the door and guns drawn, as KTVU reports. The eviction had been expected this week following a court order that came down on Friday. The women have been occupying the vacant home illegally since November 18.
"Ya'll got SWAT out here?" cried one person in the assembled crowd, per KTVU. And Walker spoke to reporters saying, "They came in like an Army for mothers and babies. We have the right to housing. This is just the beginning."
Two of the mothers, Misty Cross, 38, and Tolani King, 46, were arrested and put in zip-tie restraints, along with supporter Jesse Turner, 25. All three are Oakland residents and had apparently been sitting in the home peacefully protesting the eviction and refusing to leave.
Sgt. Ray Kelly told KTVU that deputies were hit with several projectiles by protesters at the scene, and that officers recognized some of the protesters from other "violent" protest actions in and around Oakland.
The owner of the home, Southern California real estate investment firm Wedgewood Properties, issued a statement through spokesperson Sam Singer saying, "Wedgewood is pleased the illegal occupation of its Oakland home has ended peacefully. That is what the company has sought since the start." The company now says it will partner with a nonprofit to renovate and flip the home, using labor from an at-risk youth program.
"The solution to Oakland’s housing crisis is not the redistribution of citizens’ homes through illegal break-ins and seizures by squatters," Wedgewood added, further addressing Oakland City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Rebecca Kaplan, and Dan Kalb and telling them they "shouldn’t participate in media stunts."
A Facebook video shown below shows the eviction and arrests taking place. At one point, one of the women in restraints can be heard screaming at officers, "What is my crime?! I am just trying to live!"