After Hundreds Mobilize to Defend Occupied Home, Riot Police Evict Mothers With Tanks & Robot
On January 14th, a massive, militarized eviction by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department ended a nearly two month long takeover of a formerly vacant property by the collective, Moms 4 Housing, in West Oakland.
Despite the raid, the movement surrounding it shows no signs of letting up, as grassroots anger grows at law enforcement and the deepening housing crisis.
On Monday, January 13th at around 6:30 PM, word went out that a locksmith had been seen outside the occupied West Oakland home which had been re-appropriated by a collective of formally houseless African-American mothers and their children.
The lock smith explained that they were waiting for the police and that an eviction was going to be carried out that night. Within minutes, through text and social media, people mobilized and surround the house in solidarity.
Soon, the crowd swelled to between 200-300 people, with a line of supporters locking arms in front of the house in defense. Supporters also dropped off piles of food and supplies, while both the mothers inside and supporters outside gave short speeches and statements of solidarity.
As the evening wore on, word came down that the Sheriffs were claiming that the eviction would not be carried out that night and the crowd largely dissipated. Over all, the mobilization of hundreds of supporters in a matter of minutes was seen as a key victory and a sign of the movement’s growing strength.
The scene however quickly changed from elation to horror, as in the early morning of January 14th, a massive amount of Alameda County Sheriffs, many armed with full on military and riot control gear, assault weapons, a robot, and armored vehicles, arrived in front of the home with guns drawn to serve the eviction.
An Indybay journalist at the scene reported that the riot police were armed with AR-15s and blocked off both sides of the street in order to ensure that no supporters would gain access to the house.
Despite the immensely militarized police presence, Indybay reports that a crowd still managed to gather in front of the house in solidarity and to document arrests. Police helicopters and drones monitored and filmed the area during the raid.
As The Mercury News wrote:
The eviction process culminated in a tense and dramatic scene Tuesday. Dozens of sheriff’s office personnel, including a tactical team wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying rifles, showed up at the house and blocked off the surrounding streets.
They broke down the door — which Moms 4 Housing had barricaded — with a battering ram, then sent a robot into the house to search it for possible threats.
After making arrests and boarding up the now vacant home, law enforcement then piled into vans as people surrounded the vehicles and began banging on the sides while chanting.
One of the mothers who had been living at the house, Dominique Walker, then gave a statement to the media. When the raid began, she had been at a nearby radio station speaking live on Democracy Now! when she received word that the raid was taking place and hurried back to the home in West Oakland.
Dominique gave the following statement to supporters and the press:
Despite the dramatic showing of militarized police violence against Moms 4 Housing, it is clear that a grassroots movement has mobilized to defend their struggle and moreover, there is massive amount of community support for their direct action.
People across the US are feeling the crippling affects of the combination of low paying jobs and the increasing cost of living. What happens next remains in the hands of those on the streets, but one can only hope that this struggle grows and more people begin to re-appropriate housing and the means of existence.
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