wait a moment

OAKLAND — A month after their dramatic, early-morning arrests, the Moms 4 Housing members who were briefly jailed after being evicted from the home they were squatting in found out Thursday they will not be charged.

Moms 4 Housing members Misty Cross and Tolani King, along with supporters Jesse Turner and Walter Baker, were arrested on misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing the eviction at the West Oakland house. On Thursday, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office informed all four that they won’t face charges, said their lawyer, Micah Clatterbaugh.

“The DA did not appear interested in making a big political issue out of this, out of prosecuting them,” Clatterbaugh said.

Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Moms 4 Housing activists made headlines in November when they took over an empty, investor-owned house and squatted there for two months. At around 5:15 a.m. Jan. 14, Alameda County deputies broke the door down and evicted the activists, arresting them and their supporters when they refused to leave.

The four were booked into Santa Rita Jail and had their bail set at $5,000. All were released later that afternoon. A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for their bail had collected nearly $43,000 before it was disabled.

Cross, King, Turner and Baker showed up at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Thursday morning for their scheduled arraignment, accompanied by about two dozen supporters. A bailiff told them the District Attorney’s office hadn’t yet decided whether to file charges, gave them slips of paper with a phone number and told them to call back at 1 p.m. for an update.

OAKLAND, CA – FEBRUARY 13: An attorney representing Moms 4 Housing holds court slip outside the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Oakland, Calif. Charges against two of their members and two supporters have not yet been filed by district attorney in relation to arrests made during an eviction in January. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

When they called back, they were told there would be no charges, Clatterbaugh said.

“This was an incredible victory — this entire situation,” he said.

Moms 4 Housing built up support from local community members and even public officials while squatting in the house, and that public support pressured the city and property owner to give in to their demands. After the arrests, the owner of the house — real estate company Wedgewood — agreed to sell the property to the Oakland Community Land Trust, which will allow the activists to move back in. That deal is still under negotiation.

Shortly after, Oakland City Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas introduced an ordinance that would give tenants and affordable housing nonprofits first dibs to buy residential property going up for sale.

Source: East Bay No charges for Moms 4 Housing activists, supporters

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