A planned protest organized by a notorious Oakland landlord upset about homeless people living near Home Depot fizzled quickly on Friday morning as counter-protesters swarmed the event.
Gene Gorelik announced the protest on Facebook, saying he would rent a boom lift from Home Depot and throw away $300 in one-dollar bills from it. He also said that he would give anyone camping near the Home Depot $2,000 each to move, but unless everyone moved, he wouldn't give them any money.
Gorelik has previously made headlines for posting gaudy pro-Trump banners on his property. He was sued by the city of Oakland in 2017 for demolishing a section of a home where a tenant was still living.
On Friday morning, he arrived at the Home Depot at 4000 Alameda Ave. wearing an elf costume and with a "Make Oakland Great Again" hat. He spoke through a bullhorn and brought two inflatable eagles similar to ones he has placed at his properties. An organized counter-protest far outnumbered his few supporters.
Gorelik was protesting a large homeless encampment near Home Depot. City Councilmember Noel Gallo has been vocal about moving the encampment, saying Home Depot has threatened to leave Oakland, but company officials have denied that the store has threatened to move.
The City Council voted on Tuesday to close a dead-end street behind the store used by some people living in RVs.
Gorelik was escorted from the area by Oakland police by 9:30 a.m., according to social media posts from counter-protesters. Oakland police did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
"Instead of working to mitigate and improve any issues between Home Depot and the curbside community, Mayor (Libby) Schaaf, Councilmember Noel Gallo and supporters like Gene Gorelik want to evict the curbside community with no where to go, providing no adequate housing," organizers with the East Oakland Collective wrote in a Facebook post.
Gorelik, in a Facebook post following the event, wrote that he would obtain a permit for a similar protest in Frank Ogawa Plaza.