The Olympia Police Department (OPD) is in the process of clearing the Downtown Olympia Red Lion Hotel after it was forcibly occupied by a group identified as Oly Housing Now, a homeless activist group. Employees of the hotel have been safely escorted out of the occupied hotel after sheltering in the basement through the afternoon and part of the evening.
At about 11 a.m. today, people inside the Red Lion began calling 911 to report a group was attempting to forcibly take over the hotel. OPD received reports that the employees felt under threat from the group, and that an employee was allegedly assaulted.
Employees reported that some members of the activist group inside the hotel were armed with items such as hatchets, batons, knives and had gasmasks, helmets and goggles apparently in preparation for a confrontation. OPD estimated about 45 members of the group inside and outside of the hotel.
At the time of the occupation, approximately 40 rooms in the hotel were booked with guests who were bystanders to the incident. Those guests sheltered in their rooms during the occupation, and OPD is providing a safe place for them as the hotel is cleared.
Before the occupation, the activist group had earlier reserved 17 rooms, which were occupied by currently unhoused individuals as the occupation occurred. As OPD clears the hotel, the City’s Crisis Response Unit is connecting those unhoused people to services. They will not be allowed to remain at the hotel.
OPD does anticipate there will be some arrests associated with the occupation. The investigation is ongoing. OPD is being supported in their efforts to reclaim the hotel by the Thurston County Sherriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol.
“Making sure our unhoused residents have access to safe and affordable housing has been Olympia’s priority for more than a decade,” said Mayor Cheryl Selby. “Olympia has led on responding to homelessness, on coordinating shelter and other basic needs. The tactics used today by Oly Housing Now are unproductive and won’t make the mission more attainable.”