That’s just what Walker and a group of Black, homeless and housing-insecure mothers and children did in November, moving into the unoccupied “Magnolia Street House” to shelter themselves as they called attention to the blatant injustices of Oakland’s overwhelming housing crisis.
Wedgewood Properties, the owner of the house and flipper of dozens of other properties in the area, lost little time in fighting to evict the families. In an early January ruling, Moms 4 Housing lost their case to Wedgewood, which claimed the moral high ground in the situation. Shortly thereafter, the Moms were forced from the home just before 6 am by officers of the sheriff's department armed with riot gear and AR-15 rifles.
In the wake of the Moms’ eviction, and in celebration of their recognition by the Oakland City Council as Black History Month honorees, we checked in with Walker to talk about what’s happened and what’s to come for the Moms.
You’ve gotten a really militant response. Does the scale of that reaction surprise you?
Not the scale of reaction, I don’t think that surprised us, but the support has been outstanding. And we appreciate all of our supporters, it just lets us know we are on the right side of history, we’re doing the right thing, and I think this resonates with everyone, because all of our basic needs are being commodified. Housing is a basic human need, and I think folks are starting to realize that capitalism is playing a part in that not being a reality. And it should be.
It’s been an intentional act of civil disobedience. You’re a lifelong activist. Is that true of the other moms?
Yes, I’ve been a community organizer since the age of 14. All of the other moms have been organizing in their communities, and we’ve seen the change that gentrification has had, we’ve seen our community be victims of the foreclosure crisis, and we’ve seen our folks be displaced either out into the street or to any outside place, to Vallejo, Fresno, Madesto, places like that.