Washington police arrested at least 12 people who occupied an Olympia hotel in an alleged attempt to “forcibly take over the hotel” and demand local authorities provide housing for homeless individuals during the coronavirus pandemic, according to local reports.
Olympia police arrested at least a dozen homeless activists who are said to be from the group Oly Housing Now, local news station King 5 reported. The group of approximately 45 people barged into the Downtown Olympia Red Lion Hotel around 11 a.m. local time Sunday “armed with items such as hatchets, batons, knives and had gasmasks, helmets and goggles apparently in preparation for a confrontation,” the city announced in a subsequent press release.
WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE
Olympia officials said 40 hotel rooms were booked by bystanders at the time of the apparent takeover.
“Before the occupation, the activist group had earlier reserved 17 rooms, which were occupied by currently unhoused individuals as the occupation occurred,” the city said.
One hotel worker was assaulted during the takeover, while the others sought refuge in the building’s basement, KING 5 reported. People from the group overtook the two floors of the hotel and reportedly covered the windows with dark-colored tarps.
Bystanders took shelter in their rooms, the city said.
Police obtained a search warrant for conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary and trespassing, and a SWAT team was called to the scene.
Charges against the 12 people were not immediately specified. It was not clear if more people would be charged.
Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.