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SWAT teams sweep homeless out of Washington state hotel that was taken over by activists

Motel standoff ends in activists' eviction
Motel standoff ends in activists' eviction 02:04

Olympia, Washington — Two Olympia police SWAT teams went door-to-door at the Red Lion Hotel Sunday night breaking up what police called a forcible occupation by homeless advocates. Other officers escorted out employees who were sheltering in the basement for more than six hours, feeling trapped, police said.

Seven people were detained are more arrests were expected, CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV reports.

The incident was similar to a recent one in Fife, Washington.

The activists, from a group called Oly Housing Now, paid for 17 rooms for one night, moved in 33 homeless people and tried to arrange for them to stay indefinitely without paying, KIRO says.

They demanded that Thurston County use funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the rooms.

"We're just ready to stand our ground. We don't mean any harm. We actually want this hotel to get business," said Oly Housing Now's Emma Veite.

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Police outside Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, Washington on night of January 31, 2021. KIRO-TV

"So they're going to get the FEMA funds. And the rooms are going to be occupied by people who need them. So it's a win-win. The funds are there; the county just has to apply for it."

Police said they started receiving calls at about 11 a.m. from hotel employees who said people with batons, knives, hatchets, gas masks, helmets and goggles had entered the lobby, apparently prepared for a confrontation. Officers estimated there were 45 members of the group inside and out.

One employee was assaulted while trying to stop part of the group from entering the lobby while about seven to eight other employees hid in a basement room, police said

At the time, police added, some 40 rooms had guests in them. They stayed put until the incident was over, authorities said.

Police said they were connecting the homeless who were in rooms with services.

The people taken into custody allegedly committed crimes including burglary and trespassing.

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