A dozen people were arrested after armed protesters attempted to forcibly take over the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, Washington. A SWAT team cleared out the hotel and escorted guests and employees out of the building.
Demonstrators armed with hatchets, batons, and knives stormed the Red Lion Hotel in downtown Olympia on Sunday, reportedly assaulting an employee who tried to lock the establishment’s doors. The rest of the staff barricaded themselves in the hotel’s basement, according to a police statement.
The group, identified as a homeless activism organization called Oly Housing Now, had earlier reserved 17 rooms in the hotel on behalf of “unhoused individuals,” city officials said. Around 45 people were involved in the brief occupation, with demonstrators demanding long-term accommodation for the city’s homeless. At the time, around 40 rooms were booked by guests not affiliated with the protesters, and many of them were forced to lock their doors until help arrived.
After receiving 911 calls from the hotel’s employees, police obtained a search warrant for first degree burglary, trespassing, and conspiracy to commit burglary, local media reported.
Washington State Patrol’s SWAT team, accompanied by local police and officers from the county sheriff’s office, entered the hotel on Sunday evening and began arresting the activists.
The SWAT team cleared out the building in a room-by-room search as law enforcement personnel escorted employees and guests to safety.
At least 12 individuals were arrested during the operation.
Videos taken at the scene show protesters outside of the hotel confronting police, who arrived in armored trucks and were outfitted in riot gear.
According to eyewitness reports, officers used crowd control munitions, including flashbangs, while retaking the hotel and dispersing crowds that had gathered outside the building.
Mayor Cheryl Selby denounced the activists in a statement, saying that their actions were “unproductive” and won’t make the goal of providing housing to those in need more attainable.
The capital of Washington state has been rocked by protests and violence in recent months. In December, one person was shot after left-wing Antifa activists clashed with a group of Proud Boys, a right-wing organization.
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