The homeless crisis in Oakland is worsening exponentially. And according to statistics, 68% of this population is Black. The City of Oakland is in an effort to create a wealthier and white Oakland. In order to achieve this, city officials are illegally evicting homeless encampments. These evictions mirror the displacement of Ohlone people years ago. These traumatic evictions occuring today in the city of Oakland force some of the unhoused community into Tuff Sheds. The Tuff Chefs are essentially concentration camps. They violate human rights. Meanwhile, government buildings are locked at night instead of housing the homeless. And pubic bathrooms are also made inaccessible at night. In all, the City of Oakland is strategically displacing its Black community to facilitate gentrification.
On October 24th, a community of homeless residents successfully resisted the illegal eviction of their encampment. According to Steven DeCaprio, evicting homeless encampments in Oakland is in violation of case law. In Martin v. Boise, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (covering most of the Western States) ruled that citations of people who are homeless based on their status is a violation of the United States Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. It is a violation of the United States Constitution to target activities that are necessary for human life. Any prosecution and arrest of homeless people based on activities that are necessary for them to live is illegal. The courts also ruled that local governments cannot ban and/or evict homeless encampments unless the city can provide adequate shelter for those people. Although the city of Oakland erected Community Cabins, the cabins are essentially storage sheds. And the conditions inside those spaces are inhumane. Lastly, the city failed to provide enough alternative housing to accommodate the homeless population they’re rapidly evicting from their rightful encampments.
As Nino Parker, a homeless advocate, explains, “One group of people should not have the power to dictate where another group of people should live.” And in the City of Oakland, the African-American population is being intentionally displaced to create space for an influx of weathier white people.