ActivismSan Francisco

The Oakland Village Encampment Eviction was a Disgrace

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The people at Oakland’s Housing and Dignity Village were treated with anything but dignity when the city of Oakland gave them the boot Thursday.

The “homeless” encampment at Edes Avenue and South Elmhurst Avenue was a safe and sober tiny-house community to at least 13 women and children, but it also acted as a staging area to provide free meals for up to 250 hungry people in the area and maintained a medical tent to serve basic health needs. The city and the women of color-led camp legally battled and negotiated up until the police swarmed in, followed by the Department of Public Works, to remove residents and their belongings, citing an unsanitary condition. The eviction occurred while several residents were away at work and children were at school.

The eviction, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was moved to “meet more respectful conditions,” according to a KTVU report. However, footage taken by residents and protesters illustrate the amount of “respect” authorities had while dismantling the small community.

The city’s official statement on the eviction claims that all residents were offered shelter beds prior to their displacement and that all belongings would be stored for 90 days. Although outreach teams did offer other emergency accommodations, Village representatives argue that the supply of beds available in Oakland is insufficient the city’s homeless population – and many report feeling unsafe inside shelters, especially with children. In reference to the city’s claim that they would store property for residents, the above video demonstrates their storage priorities – truck loads of property and pieces of tiny homes are shown being shoveled into DPW trucks and compactors.

The aggressive nature of the sweep and disrespect for people’s property outraged advocates who came out to block the eviction path, some of whom were arrested as a result. Undeterred, people brought their stories and voices to Tuesday’s City Council meeting, hoping for a little compassion, but according to the The Village, Oakland Twitter feed, they were met with more contention as Council Member Larry Reid threatened to have speakers removed from the chamber by police force. In response to the lack of dignity and respect given to The Village community and its allies, representatives are calling on the public to call and email Reid and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.