Feb Mon, 2021 Hotel Attacks
King 5 News in Olympia, Washington, reported that at 11:00 am on 31 January 2021, 45 people from the Oly Housing Now (OHN) group conducted an armed takeover of the Red Lion Inn & Suites Olympia (aka, Governor Hotel) and then occupied it. In military terms, this was a raid. Police eventually breached the hotel, cleared it of occupiers, and rescued guests and employees. Reporting so far says there was one light casualty.
The Olympian says OHN was an action group created by the Olympia chapter of Anarchist Mutual Aid Collective (AMAC) specifically for the Olympia Red Lion raid. AMAC is an anarchist group. Its goal is to protect what it perceives as “marginalized people” (the homeless, minorities, and LBGT persons) from a “greedy, elitist, capitalist society.” It provides food and essential supplies to homeless camps, among other aid type activities. The Olympian says one of AMAC’s goals is for the city of Olympia to raise taxes on luxury and commercial properties and build permanent housing for people making less than $26,200 a year.
AMAC is steeped in its own concepts of “mutual aid,” “community defense,” and “collective responsibility.” It despises capitalism, and its verbiage and actions appear to support far left-wing socialist, communist, and ANTIFA-like concepts. Based on its protests, AMAC promotes violent, anti-police verbiage and dogma.
AMAC is similar to the activist group, Tacoma Housing Now, which used Trojan Horse tactics (a stealthy raid) to take over a Travelodge hotel in Fife, Washington, in December 2020, says CBS News. After long response delays, police, some in HAZMAT suits, retook the Travelodge from its occupiers.
That operation was reportedly organized by radical leftist Ryan Endicott (aka “Arrow”). A photo of Endicott on Twitter shows him sporting a forearm tattoo of an AK-47 next to an ANTIFA flag.
The Red Lion raid in Olympia appears to be part of that movement and is generally in keeping with a steady stream of political violence that has plagued the United States and its hotels for several years. Muir Analytics has written about this violence here and here.
The next day at 11:00 am, 45 people dressed in black, many of whom were armed with batons, knives, and hatchets, swarmed the hotel and took it over with some of the group remaining outside the building. The city government said some attackers had gas masks, helmets, and goggles, indicating they were anticipating a clash with authorities. They also brought boxes of paper towels and ramen noodles, indicating they were settling in for a siege.
Upon entry, the raiders were alone in the lobby as no front desk personnel were present, says The Olympian.
When hotel staffers finally realized what was happening, they balked at the intrusion, and OHN personnel threatened them. The staffers made several 9 11 calls to the police, and tensions rose. One of the OHN assaulted a hotel employee, but the victim did not suffer injuries that required hospitalization.
Terrified staffers then broke away from their assailants and barricaded themselves in the basement laundry room, turning it into a makeshift saferoom. The hotel staff said their attackers were armed, violent, and holding them hostage, reports Kiro 7 News.
As an aside, an OHN activist who was part of the takeover told the press that claims of violence were an excuse for the police to use heavy-handed tactics against them. The activist justified their violence by saying homeless people were dying on the streets of Olympia, so their tactics were necessary.
Other occupiers in the lobby read protest placards aloud, chanting slogans such as, “It’s Vacant, Take It!”
Trish Gregory, Executive Director of the Family Support Center, an organization that helps the homeless in Olympia, had multiple homeless families staying in the Red Lion at the time. Hotel staff called her in the middle of the raid to alert her of the situation and to say they were going on lockdown, says The Olympian.
Ms. Gregory then called homeless families her organization had placed in the Red Lion and told them to shelter in place. It is not clear if the police or the hotel instructed other guests to shelter in place or not.
A homeless person who was part of the raid told the press that people they did not know rented them hotel rooms for at least one night, and they were unsure about staying in the hotel for longer. They were well aware they were involved in an extortion ploy, however. A homeless person involved said, “We were going to say we’re not leaving and see if we could get FEMA or whoever to start putting out and getting us housing.”
During the takeover, OHN told authorities their goal was to force Olympia’s city government to secure long term accommodation for the homeless they had brought into the hotel. They also said, “We’re just ready to stand our ground. We don’t mean any harm. We actually want this hotel to get business,” reports Law Enforcement Today.
As this was happening, police secured a search warrant for the building. A judge granted the warrant on the basis of searching for perpetrators involved in “first-degree burglary, trespassing, and conspiracy to commit burglary.”
In the meantime, Olympia’s police, the local sheriff’s department, and the Washington State Highway Patrol’s SWAT team met and planned to take back the hotel.
By 6:30 pm, that joint police force had closed down all streets around the hotel.
Video from The David Ross Show shows that police in riot gear formed a defensive picket line to keep at bay a group of furious protesters shouting slogans and violent threats at police. The goal here was to keep the outside OHN force from interfering with the clearing operation once it began.
Shortly thereafter, police entered the hotel to search for the perpetrators. David Ross Show video shows officers inside the hotel proceeding room to room using methodical building-clearing tactics. Along the way, they arrested OHN occupiers and escorted guests and hotel staff from the building.
Additional video of the event at the 1:29:01 mark shows white smoke coming from one of the upper reaches of the hotel, and muffled “thump!” noises could be heard. This indicates the police might have had to use non-lethal, low-grade explosive devices such as flash-bang grenades to dislodge some of the assailants.
As police cleared the building, video of the event shows enraged OHN personnel shouting the following slogans at the police: “ACAB – All cops are bastards!” (59:05 mark), “F#*k the police!” (1:29:09 mark), and “I hope you all f@*#$Ng die. Rest in piss!” (00:31 mark, this latter video is from The Sun).
As OHN’s homeless were removed from the building, Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit arrived and began securing shelter for them.
By Monday morning, Olympia police had arrested seven people involved in the incident. They were charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree assault, unlawful possession of heroin, obstructing an officer, and first-degree criminal trespass, says The Olympian and The Daily World.
Frustrated Olympia city officials who were actively involved in helping the city’s homeless said the OHN operation was “reckless,” “uninformed,” “infuriating,” “short-sighted,” “ego-driven,” and “counterproductive.” Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby called OHN’s operation “an act of domestic terrorism” and that it had “exploited and victimized the very group they claim to want to help.”
The US Government’s Code of Federal Regulations defines terrorism as “The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
There are seven takeaways here. First, the raid tactics used by OHN (and Tacoma Housing Now) were effective. They used a combination of deception and strong-armed tactics – violence and intimidation – to take over the Red Lion Hotel (and the Travelodge in Fife). Their planning was methodical and well thought out, and they brought the right kind of personnel and weaponry to achieve their takeover.
Second, OHN’s ideological method – how they process their own political logic – is similar to those of terrorist organizations, insurgent groups, and other political activists that decide to use violence for political purposes and extortion. In their perception, they have identified what they believe to be a wrong or a crime that must be corrected, and the existing laws and procedures of society cannot, or will not, address said issues. Violence, intimidation, and extortion, then, are the only means available to correct the given situation in the minds of these types of groups. And, more importantly, they believe their moral stance justifies violence and supersedes the law.
Third, OHN (and Tacoma Housing Now) were unrealistic in their end goals. While their tactics in seizing these hotels were effective, their violence failed to achieve the desired effects. In both cases, law enforcement cleared out the protesters using an appropriate level of force, and the assailants achieved neither lengthy sieges nor their extortion goals.
Fourth, some news outlets called the Red Lion raid an ANTIFA operation. While Muir Analytics has not uncovered direct links between ANTIFA, OHN, and AMAC, their ideologies and tactics are similar, if not the same. And ANTIFA personnel have been linked to the broader, militant national housing movement.
Fifth, political violence in the US is having both a direct and indirect impact on hotels. Muir Analytics has recorded as many as 20 incidents of hotel political violence in the US since 2016. These episodes have included intimidation, arson, physical assaults, gunfire, and property damage.
Sixth, statistics in Muir Analytics’ SecureHotel Threat Portal database demonstrate that people and groups harboring radical, left-wing ideologies have been responsible for the vast majority of political violence against US hotels in the past five plus years. This does not mean radical right-wing groups in the US are not violent, and it does not mean they will not commit violence against US hotels in the future. It simply means that, to date, they have not.
Seventh, looking forward, more hotel violence by left-wing, homeless activist groups such as OHN in the US cannot be ruled out. They have the ideology, the will power, and the tactical abilities to do so. The question now is, will these groups continue their current track and expand their “national movement” – their exact words – and increase operations, or will they realize their raid and siege tactics are counterproductive?
Additionally, as US politicians, the media, and commentators on social media spread propaganda to dehumanize the US citizenry, political violence in America will continue to fester and, most likely, escalate. If this happens, it will merely be a continuation of political violence that began well over five years ago. And this violence will continue to impact US hotels.
More extreme hotel political violence by left or right-wing groups cannot be ruled out. Worst-case scenarios might involve more vicious tactics akin to those seen in war zones.
At the very least, US hotels should take heed of the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by OHN demonstrated here and apply the appropriate physical security and crisis management plans. The latter should include scenarios involving casualties and property damage.
Moreover, hotels should make sure their insurance policies actually cover these kinds of events and ensure coverage is not negated by cleverly worded exclusions designed to allow insurers to slip out of making payments.
Hotel threat intelligence like that contained in Muir Analytics’ SecureHotel Threat Portal is necessary to mitigate these risks effectively. It provides case studies and statistics on how these violent scenarios unfold, which, in turn, provides the hotelier, the police, and the insurer with superior risk mitigation options.
“Mayor calls Olympia hotel occupation ‘domestic terrorism’,” The Daily World, 3 February 2021.
“Thurston County judge sets bail for 4 people in connection with Olympia hotel takeover,” The Olympian, 2 February 2021.
“‘ANTIFA’ SIEGE: ‘Antifa mob’ take over hotel as protesters scream ‘f*** your sister, f*** your wife’ at riot cops,” The Sun, 1 February 2021.
“It’s happening again: Armed Antifa supporters and activist group take over hotel and demand housing for homeless,” Law Enforcement Today, 1 February 2021.
“Olympia police chief says hotel workers felt threatened by homeless activists,” Kiro 7 News, 1 February 2021.
“Police make several arrests after activists occupy downtown Olympia hotel,” The Olympian, 1 February 2021.
“Police Swarm Antifa Takeover of Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, WA,” The David Ross Show, 1 February 2021.
“Police make several arrests after activists occupy downtown Olympia hotel,” The Olympian, 1 February 2021.
Andy Ngô @MrAndyNgo, 1 February 2021, “Should be international news,” tweet.
City News and Information media release, City of Olympia, “Statement on Red Lion Occupation,” February 2021.
“7 individuals face charges for occupying Red Lion hotel in Olympia Sunday,” King 5 News, 31 January 2021.
“Homeless activists occupy downtown Olympia hotel,” The Olympian, 31 January 2021.
“Motel standoff ends in eviction for homeless activists,” CBS News, 1 January 2021.
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