Deputies Use Tanks to Evict Homeless Mothers

photo of armored vehicle
Militarized Police – photo by Gary Reyes/MCT/Newscom

Moms 4 Housing

Housing costs are going up in California (as they are here) so much so that some people can’t afford a place to live. Moms 4 Housing is a peaceful group who feel that people have a right to housing. They say they are a “collective of homeless and marginally housed mothers.” Individuals looking to make quick money are buying houses from poor people then letting the houses sit until they can get around to fixing them up to sell at drastically increased prices. The homeless mothers found one of those homes and moved in, basically become squatters.

Housing is Becoming a Problem Everywhere

Ironically, when everyone is saying the economy is so good, there is a marked increase in homelessness. We’ve all heard the problems Austin is having. Or you can look right in our own backyard. There is currently an article on KSAT titled, “San Antonio residents want to see some action on homeless issues plaguing city.”  And you can read the Texas Tribune article about San Antonio housing costs going up but wages aren’t, which is setting us up for the same situation that is happening in California and all over the United States. Still, while squatting and the subsequent eviction may bring attention to the problem it can become a dangerous situation.

Militarized Police

Many police departments have been allowed to buy used military equipment but they don’t really have very many opportunities to use that equipment. If anyone thinks officers are not thrilled to be riding around on military equipment in fatigues or riot gear and playing Rambo, you’re kidding yourself. On January 15th, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office SWAT personnel, dressed in riot gear, decided to use tanks and a Bearcat armored vehicle to evict the mothers and babies. This was a ridiculously excessive use of force and made me think of the man whose house was destroyed by police.

The police tried to justify their over-the-top response to the situation saying the women had barricaded the door. This is absurd. Officers use battering rams all the time without needing a tank. Another excuse that Sgt. Ray Kelly gave was that  items were thrown at them. Wouldn’t riot shields stop that? And if that was a concern, why are they hanging off the vehicle, unprotected, like they are in the picture?  And lastly, Sgt. Kelly said that he recognized “violent” individuals in the crowd. That could be total bullshit or it could be the truth. But what was he going to do, run them over with a tank?

Police Make Such Poor Decisions

Wouldn’t it have been better to have riot police there to control whatever crowd was watching rather than portray yourselves as military in a dictatorship, who were putting down an insurrection? Police all over our nation complain about how they are hated but they don’t see the harm to their own image that their poor decisions cause. No doubt the officers were all thrilled to be playing soldier. The community they police saw a ridiculously excessive display of force used to arrest three single mothers.

And one last insult. Raids like this are extremely expensive, in the tens of thousands of dollars. While answering questions on the cost of the raid, Sgt. Kelly said he may bill the property owner for the cost. May. I doubt this will happen. The owner would probably file a lawsuit saying that there was no need for the excessive amount of equipment. It’s iffy who would win since situations like this are stacked very much in favor of the police but if the property owner wins, and he just might, it means the taxpayers are going to be stuck with the bill. Somehow, I don’t even think they are going to try to make him pay. They’ll just let the budget absorb the costs and avoid the hassle. Heck, we even see that kind of careless regard for taxpayer money right here in our own Sheriff’s Office. We are way past time for a new approach in policing.

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