Police arrested 22 people on suspicion of resisting arrest early Monday morning after they allegedly refused to leave a homeless camp that had been set in front of Oakland City Hall, city officials said.
The city said the people who were arrested were violating the city’s ban on overnight camping in a park.
Oakland officials said that shortly before noon Sunday, about 20 people with an organization called Housing Justice Village gathered at Frank Ogawa Plaza without a permit to protest and pitched 15 tents along with tables and canopies.
The city said the group size grew to 25 tents and 70 to 80 people later in the day.
Housing Justice Village leaders said the protest was against what they allege are civil and human rights violations committed by the city and to call for an end to what they say are “cruel and inhumane anti-homeless practices” by the city, including eviction and demolition of camps, and towing of recreational vehicles.
In a news release issued Sunday, Housing Justice Village founder Needa Bee said:
“(The camp was intended) to create space to give our folks the opportunity for some healing after all the trauma and brutality we have all endured.”
“We’re here to protest on behalf of unhoused folks and ask questions” about funding and solutions the group says were approved two years ago but have not been implemented.
She said the homeless population in Oakland has doubled during that time.
Oakland officials said in a news release that city staff engaged with protesters throughout the day on Sunday and told them that camping in the plaza overnight and erecting structures would be a violation of several city ordinances but that they could resume their protest during daytime hours.
The city said it also provided unsheltered participants with resources at St. Vincent de Paul, where beds and services remain available, but only one person availed themselves of a shelter bed and services.
The city said that after many hours of negotiations and requests for protesters to leave, the activists were told that their possessions would be removed and stored by the city for their safe return.
City officials said only nine of the 22 people who were arrested have Oakland addresses.
Jail records indicate that Bee, 48, who’s also known as Anita Miralle, was among those arrested.
Bee is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $5,000 bail and tentatively is scheduled to be arraigned at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
In a video posted on Housing Justice Village’s Facebook page, a woman affiliated with the group accused police of illegally breaking into people’s tents without a search warrant.
The woman said police conducted the arrests after news media left the camp and protesters repeatedly chanted:
“We are protected by the Constitution!”
The protesters also chanted:
“Show us the warrant!”
Housing Village leaders couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday on the arrests or on their future plans.
As an explanation for the arrests, the city said in its release:
“Frank Ogawa Plaza is a shared community space that serves many groups in our city, including students from nearby schools who use the lawn for a recreation area and civic events that serve all residents.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said:
“Housing and homelessness are the most urgent crises facing our community, region, and state. Our shared priority is to create more safe shelter spaces for our unsheltered residents and build more affordable housing immediately.”
“Oakland supports every resident’s right to free speech and to protest peacefully in our city.”