After a year of consistent undermining of their efforts to decriminalize homelessness and spark a movement to create humane and dignified solutions to the housing and homeless crisis in Oakland, two leaders and residents of the The Village are now facing criminal charges for defending themselves and the encampment they live in under conditions created by the City Administration. Their trial starts this Friday March 16.
PRE-TRIAL PRESS CONFERENCE FOR “THE VILLAGE 2”
Friday, March 16
In front of Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse
661 Washington St.
Oakland Ca 94607
The Village is a grassroots effort that organizes housed and unhoused residents of Oakland to provide temporary emergency shelter and support services to Oakland’s homeless as a pathway towards permanent housing. The movement made headlines in January 2017 when they successfully liberated unused public lands to manifest their vision. They were bulldozed by the City Administration to tune of $75,000.
Since then, the movement has established itself as a powerful lobbying and organizing body responsible for winning over Oakland City Council to declare a shelter crisis declaration, legalize and protect the efforts of The Village and force the Mayor and her Administration to work with the group and grant them city owned or managed land to continue their mission.
But their victory has been continually undermined.
“The latest violation of our most vulnerable citizens by authorities occurred when two homeless leaders of The Village were forced to defend themselves and the encampment from an attack by a known predator,” reads a statement signed by more than two dozen social justice, faith based and business organizations.
Jodie Everett is part of The Village leadership and resident who intervened when his fellow Village leader and resident Mouangjoi Tracy Saelee Edmond attempted to defend herself from being assaulted with a nail-riddled two by four. The Village believes that not only are the two defendants victims, but the person they were defending themselves and the encampment from is also a victim of the system. According to volunteers and residents, the alleged victim is in desperate need of mental health services and housing.
“There is a compassionate way to deal with our unsheltered residents, but prosecuting them in our criminal justice system is not it. We need to show empathy and make sure they all get homes, medical services, mental health services, safety and protection. We do not need to pit them against each other,” reads the statement. “The issue we need to address is institutional. It is not about the two leaders who defended themselves and the encampment. It is not about the person who attacked Tracy. This should have never happened in the first place. They are all victims of an avaricious system.”
The Village and its supporters are demanding all charges dropped due to consistently ineffective and inhumane homeless policies and police misconduct and mistreatment of the unhoused. The Village and supporters assert that these two leaders had to defend themselves in that moment and monies spent on criminal injustices rather than services to our city’s most vulnerable is unconscionable.
And now, scheduled for November 2018, the City plans to take away the land it granted The Village five months ago to repair an overpass. The 80 people the City herded will now be forcibly displaced to rebuild the overpass that spans across the parcel. The Village is currently negotiating with City Administration for four new parcels to house all 80 residents at the current location on E. 12th Street and 23rd ave. As well as the original 16 residents who were bulldozed by the city last year. Of the 16 residents, 14 are homeless and 2 have died in the streets.
Press Contact: Kasey Brenner