Protesters who claimed to be advocating for the homeless broke in and entered the City Hall in Bellingham, Washington on Friday while protesting a plan by the city to move a homeless encampment further away from the government building.
The protesters blocked the street with their cars and removed the flag from city hall grounds, dragging it over the ground.
#BREAKING: Protestors broke into a locked city hall in Bellingham today. Mayor had to be escorted out for safety.
They also tore down the American flag outside. Stole a KGMI journalist’s mic and threw a hot drink on him.
They’re supposed to be here advocating for the homeless. pic.twitter.com/uIMbRVRwBl
— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) January 23, 2021
Officials had to escort Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood out of the building for his safety after about 20 protesters broke into it. City Hall has been closed due to the pandemic.
Police secured building
When police arrived, they asked the protesters to leave the building, which they did. Police then secured the building and reported no damage or arrests. Other reports noted graffiti had been painted onto the outside of the building during the protest.
No action was taken against the protesters, and Fleetwood said the city would not take any aggressive action against them.
The protest came about because the homeless encampment, known as Camp 210, was notified earlier in the week that it had to move at least 25 feet from the city hall building by Friday, the Bellingham Herald reported.
Tents and other structures had been raised on the lawn of city hall and the library in November, and 90 to 120 homeless individuals had been staying there each night. It had also become a gathering place of sorts for other homeless people to get food and supplies.
Safety concerns prompted the need for the camp to move after multiple fires and a propane tank explosion, Breitbart reported.
The mayor and city council had been negotiating with the homeless advocates to find housing or provide a number of tiny homes for them to stay in, but the negotiations had broken down prior to the protest.
The protesters may have been outside agitators, according to the Herald.
Incidentally, the words “domestic terrorists” were not used to refer to the protesters, and the invasion of city hall was not described as an “insurrection” against the government.