By Sabine Lebrón
January 16, 2020
OAKLAND: Four housing justice activists were evicted and arrested early Tuesday morning in Oakland, CA. The women, organizers with the New Afrikan-led #Moms4Housing movement, had begun their illegal occupation of the long-vacant West Oakland property – owned by so-called “developer” Wedgewood Properties – in early November. Their occupation of the Magnolia Street property was part of a broader campaign of militant struggle for access to secure housing, chiefly for colonized women, in the rapidly gentrifying city of Oakland. A response from Wedgewood Properties (real estate speculators who kept the property vacant in expectation of a massive return thanks to rising property values) came swiftly; shortly after the organizers moved in, management began eviction procedures, which came to a head in mid-December as lawyers filed a ‘right to possession’ claim on behalf of the occupiers.
#Moms4Housing’s claim argued that “[d]ata reveals [the existence of] four vacant homes within Oakland for every one of the city’s homeless residents,” and that the occupiers had taken up residency in the property in order to meet their human right to housing. This is absolutely true: in Oakland, the contradictions of the capitalist world-system have been brought into sharp relief. The city’s unhoused population has increased by 26% since 2015, and remains principally composed of New Afrikan and Latinx people. The existence of a large unhoused class is structurally necessary for the maintenance of capitalist society, staving off economic crises by keeping wages low; the ‘homelessness problem’ is a capitalism problem, in no uncertain terms, and one that cannot be resolved without the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois dictatorship.
This is why, on Friday, 10 January, after weeks of hearings, the court overturned the motion, claiming recognition of “the importance of these issues [of housing precarity],” but, in the context of principal organizer Ms. Walker’s claim of right to possession, “finds that they are outside the scope of this proceeding,” and approved the advancement of eviction precedings. They were carried out Tuesday morning at 5:00am, when the thugs of the colonizer regime stormed the barricaded Magnolia Street property, arresting the occupants at gunpoint. The eviction is a harsh reminder that the courts of the bourgeois dictatorship exist only to defend the interests of the enemy; we should not be surprised to discover that they sided with the landlord class, as that was precisely what their ‘justice system’ was designed to do. reminder that the courts of the bourgeois dictatorship exist only to defend the interests of the enemy; we should not be surprised to discover that they sided with the landlord class, as that was precisely what their ‘justice system’ was designed to do.
Without a robust revolutionary organization, carried forward by the roiling sea of the masses in struggle, fights like the #Moms4Housing occupation will always be doomed to face such repression from the bourgeois state apparatus. This is not a reason to dismiss such work; on the contrary, it is precisely the duty of principled communists to integrate ourselves with mass struggles – particularly those led by New Afrikan revolutionaries! For such struggles help to reveal the line of the masses – in Oakland this week, that line was clear. It was a battle line, drawn by a crowd of 300 people who rose up in defense of the occupation on Monday night, a battle line drawn between the camp of the revolutionary masses of Oakland and the gentrifier-landlord class. We must place ourselves at the service of the masses, learn from them and sharpen their struggles to a cutting edge; without sharing their defeats, we can never guide the masses to their inevitable victories.
Mao teaches us that to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing; it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. In the days and weeks to follow the arrest of our comrades in Oakland, we hold this teaching close. As one of the arrestees, Misty Cross, reminds us: “What happens next is the next movement. This is just a piece of it.”
Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, until victory! That is the logic of the people! It is a Marxist law!
Solidarity with the #Moms4Housing Four!