City officials in Olympia, Wash., on Tuesday condemned the actions of activists aligned with the group Oly Housing Now, after the forcible occupation of a hotel over the weekend to demand pandemic housing for the homeless, according to a report.
“I’m calling this crime an act of domestic terrorism,” Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby said at a city council meeting on Tuesday, according to the Olympian.
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 press release.
City officials said the Olympia Police Department (OPD) received reports that employees felt under threat from the group and at least one employee was allegedly assaulted, the release added.
Police obtained a search warrant for conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, and trespassing, and a SWAT team was called to the scene.
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Selby said organizers victimized the same group they claimed to want to assist and “should be held accountable to the furthest extent of the law.”
“This created an active crime scene that necessitated a police response appropriate to the scale of the actions of these terrorists,” she continued.
Oly Housing Now released a list of demands and planned to stay indefinitely until Thurston County committed funds for permanent housing. The group wanted the county to apply for funding that’s being offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for “non-congregate” shelter.
Renata Rollins, a council member who co-founded a homelessness advocacy group, said the group’s demands were for policies that that city was already practicing, and Thurston County already put millions of federal aid into the homeless response, according to the paper.
“The group’s demands made no sense,” Rollins said. “They read like they were copied and pasted from some other community’s struggle because whoever penned them had no context for what’s actually going on in Olympia and Thurston County.”
“This wasn’t activism, this was nihilism,” Rollins continued, according to the Olympian. “And it caused so much unnecessary preventable harm.”
Selby previously used the term “domestic terrorists,” when a group vandalized her house with spray paint, which the mayor said was an overreaction at the time.
Several members of the public responded to her comments on Tuesday, calling them inappropriate, including one person, Nolan Hibbard-Pelly, who said he held a sign outside the hotel amid the takeover.
“I don’t appreciate how the mayor called them terrorists,” Hibbard-Pelly said, according to the paper. “I don’t think calling housing activists or people that spray paint your house [terrorists] is really appropriate.”
At least seven people were arrested in connection with the occupation, reports said.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report