A homeless activist group, some reportedly armed with hatchets and knives forcibly occupied the Red Lion hotel in Olympia Sunday, forcing employees and guests of the hotel to shelter in place.
As of Sunday night, 12 people had been arrested, according to officials.
The activists were with a homeless activist group calling itself Oly Housing Now. They occupied the lobby and 17 rooms at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia in an apparent takeover attempt to demand pandemic housing, reports said.
According to The Olympian, the group paid for one night in the rooms, moved 33 homeless people in, and had plans to stay indefinitely.
At about 11 a.m. Sunday, the Olympia Police Department (OPD) said they started receiving calls from hotel employees who said a “mob of people wearing black” with batons and knives had entered the lobby and demanded them to open rooms.
One employee was assaulted while trying to stop part of the mob from entering the lobby while about seven to eight other employees hid in a basement room, police said.
The employees, who had been trapped in the hotel for more than 6 hours were safely removed from the building when police, along with multiple other agencies, entered the hotel building.
“Law enforcement and SWAT teams closed off the nearby roadway and are going through the hotel floor by floor,” The Olympian reported.
Shauna Sowersby, a reporter at the scene, tweeted that a loud bang was heard inside the hotel just before 11 p.m. local time. She said flashbangs also went off as officers attempted to clear the building.
A protest of about two-dozen people also has set up across the street from the hotel and were seen chanting and harassing the local law enforcement, according to videos on social media.
OPD later estimated about 45 members of the group inside and outside of the hotel.
Oly Housing Now released a list of demands and planned to stay indefinitely until Thurston County committed funds for permanent housing.