Protesters break into Bellingham City Hall over homeless encampment

The encampment has had roughly 90 to 120 campers per night. The city planned to clean up the site.

Associated Press

BELLINGHAM — Protesters and advocates for dozens of people living in a temporary tent encampment on the lawn of Bellingham City Hall on Friday created a human barrier and some later broke into the building in an effort to stop city officials from trying to clean up the site.

The city notified campers earlier this week that the encampment needed to move a short distance away from City Hall for fire and other safety reasons, The Bellingham Herald reported. People have been living there since November to protest the lack of shelter in the area.

Mayor Seth Fleetwood was escorted out of the building Friday when protesters broke a lock at City Hall, KIRO-TV reported. Fleetwood said he wasn’t certain if protestors caused any damage, other than a broken lock.

Several protesters held signs saying, “Do not sweep” and “Provide an actual solution for the homeless.”

Journalists with The Bellingham Herald left the area after a confrontation with protesters who had asked the journalists not to film or document the protest on public property.

In a statement, Fleetwood said the city seeks a peaceful end to the encampment.

“Circumstances at City Hall and the Library lawn are entirely untenable, escalated largely by protesters and outside agitators who are not residents of the encampment. Their actions are a disservice to people who are experiencing homelessness and putting them at increased risk,” Fleetwood said.

Eve Smason-Marcus, a Whatcom Human Rights Task Force board member and volunteer with the camp, said the encampment has had roughly 90 to 120 campers per night, with others coming daily to get supplies and food.

After negotiating with city officials, Smason-Marcus said the city was unwilling to meet their demands for 100 housing units, such as tiny homes, and said the city offered 25.

Fleetwood said the city offered to provide funding an additional winter shelter option and in collaboration with the Port of Bellingham and Whatcom County, offered a site and additional tiny homes. Advocates, volunteers and city officials met more than 10 times, including on Thursday, Fleetwood said.

“We will continue our collaboration with Whatcom County officials and service providers on short- and long-term solutions to providing safe shelter for those experiencing homelessness,” Fleetwood said.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

The Legislative Building is shown Friday, June 30, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Details of a new two-year state operating budget were released Friday, the same day Washington lawmakers must vote on the plan in order to prevent a partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington Senate approves new tax on high capital gains

The measure would impose a 7% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets in excess of $250,000.

FILE - In this March 4, 2018, file photo, then-MacKenzie Bezos arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Calif. Scott, philanthropist, author and former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has married a Seattle science teacher. Dan Jewett wrote in a letter to the website of the nonprofit organization the Giving Pledge, on Saturday, March 6, 2021, that he was grateful to be able to marry such a generous person and was ready to help her give away her wealth to help others. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle teacher after Bezos divorce

The groom taught chemistry at the private Lakeside School, where Scott’s children attended.

Dozens may have been under-vaccinated in Port Townsend error

People who received doses March 4 can be tested to see if they have the proper antibodies.

55,000 in Washington may have to repay unemployment benefits

Some failed to respond to requests for information and became ineligible for money they received.

Whatcom County sees 13 new B.1.1.7 variant COVID-19 cases

Snohomish County has 2 known cases of the mutation, also called the “U.K. variant.”

A syringe of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown Thursday, March 4, 2021, at a drive-up mass vaccination site in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle. Officials said they expected to deliver approximately 2500 second doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the site Thursday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Vaccine eligibility to expand to more groups on March 22

Included will be workers in agriculture and grocery stores, as well as law enforcement and others.

Seattle teachers vote to stay out of classrooms

The union said it has no confidence that the district will keep educators safe during the pandemic.

Senate OKs bill for graduating students to take bridge year

Seniors also could retake classes and boost grades that may have faltered during the pandemic.

Pacific gray whales spotted in Puget Sound

They tend to congregate in waters off Whidbey Island and feed on ghost shrimp.

Cashmere mom wins custody case that straddles two countries

A Chelan County judge ruled that Saudi Arabian courts did not provide the woman with due process.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo Ethan Nordean, with backward baseball hat and bullhorn, leads members of the far-right group Proud Boys in marching before the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Nordean, 30, of Auburn, Washington, has described himself as the sergeant-at-arms of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys. The Justice Department has charged him in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting others who damaged federal property, and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building. He asked a judge Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, to release him from detention pending trial. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster,File)
Judge orders release of Proud Boy charged in Capitol riot

The Auburn man will be restricted to home detention and must remove all firearms in his home.

Senate OKs bill prohibiting price gouging during emergencies

Products would include building materials, emergency supplies, gasoline and health care services.