Alameda DA closes the door on prosecution of Home occupiers


The needless expenditure by law enforcement for frivolous and retaliatory action to satisfy the needs of a few is obscene.

Property speculators need to be told. There must be limits on their sense of entitlement. Property rights are not without limits.  The People are more important.

To get attention and results it takes a radical step. Housing prices are obscene. People are being evicted. The Oakland mothers will not be prosecuted.  The Alameda District Attorney took the correct position in not causing further anquish to these  women and their families.

San Francisco Chronicle 2.14.2020

The Alameda County district attorney has declined to file charges against four people, including the two members of Moms 4 Housing arrested last month when a judge ordered the eviction of mothers living without permission in a vacant West Oakland home.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley quietly dropped the case on Thursday.

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Her decision concluded a dramatic chapter in the region’s acute housing crisis that gained national attention when sheriff’s deputies in riot gear and armored vehicles evicted a rotating group of four homeless mothers who took up residence in the empty house in November to highlight the shortage of affordable housing.

The saga escalated on Jan. 14, when the deputies arrested Tolani King, 46, Misty Cross, 38, and Jesse Turner, 25; all of Oakland, and Walter Baker, 28, of Berkeley.

They faced charges of resisting eviction and obstructing a peace officer, and have been out on bail.

On Friday, with the charges dropped, Moms 4 Housing — now a nonprofit group — issued a statement calling on the Sheriff’s Office to disclose how much it spent to evict the mothers and send in the tanks, and to explain why they did it.

“Residents of Alameda County have the right to know the county’s justification for using tanks to remove nonviolent mothers from a previously vacant home, and to know the cost to the taxpayers for such behavior,” the group said in a statement.

The operation, which ended when police quelled the two-month act of civil disobedience, removed the women and boarded up the home.

Meanwhile, Wedgewood Properties, which owns the Magnolia Street home and specializes in house-flipping, agreed in January to sell it to a nonprofit affordable-housing group, which in turn would give it to the mothers.

But as the mothers resolved their housing dilemma, their legal troubles persisted — until now.

“We declined to file charges,” Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said Thursday.

Earlier, King, Cross and their supporters, Turner and Baker, received a notice to appear Thursday at an Oakland courthouse. They showed up with nearly two dozen other supporters expecting to be arraigned. But a deputy told them they weren’t on the court schedule.

The uncertainty inflamed the sense of injustice among the four and their advocates.

“Not knowing if you will be charged or might be charged, this is unacceptable. This is ridiculous,” said Carroll Fife, regional director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, an organization working with Moms 4 Housing.

In an effort to avoid another “Moms 4 Housing”-style protest and help resolve Oakland’s shortage of affordable housing, Oakland Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas introduced legislation on Jan. 30 that she said would give landlords an incentive to offer tenants, affordable housing developers and land trusts first right of refusal when selling a property.

The proposal doesn’t yet specify what the incentive would be. The city’s Community and Economic Development Committee is expected to take up the issue on March 24.