OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed empathy for the mothers who awoke to armed sheriff's deputies and a battering ram at the home they had been illegally occupying.
Last week a judge ruled that the women from the group 'Moms 4 Housing' had five days to vacate the home on Magnolia Street which they had been living at since November. The home was purchased by Westwood Properties in July and sat empty until the women moved in with their children.
In the early morning hours on Tuesday, just before 6 a.m. Alameda County deputies descended on the home following court orders to remove the mothers from the property.
Deputies busted open the front door to make entry to the home and escorted the mothers out of the home, binding their hands with plastic ties. One of the mothers screamed, "Why are you taking me to jail? I'm just trying to protect my children." It's unclear where the children were; they were not seen on camera as the women were being escorted out. Walker would not say where the children were, only that "they are safe." The sheriff's office confirmed the children had been taken elsewhere before the removal.
Supporters and community activists chanted from the sidewalks, "Let the moms go! Let the moms go!" and "Shame on you! Shame on you!"
“They came in like an Army for mothers and babies," the lead mother, Dominique Walker, said after the removal. "We have the right to housing. This is just the beginning." She did not elaborate on her next moves.
Schaaf said she was appalled at the tactics used by deputies to evict the women.
"These are mothers; they're not criminals. They're mothers that have engaged in what I believe is a courageous act of civil disobedience to really highlight our housing crisis," the mayor said.
The mayor added that the movement spawned by Moms 4 Housing opened everyone's eyes.
"I applaud them for giving everyone a wakeup call that this is unacceptable that mothers have to go through these levels to put a roof over their children's heads," she said.