Protesters break into Bellingham City Hall, mayor rushed out for safety

Jan 23, 2021, 7:24 AM
Bellingham protesters...
Protesters near the tent encampment on the lawn of Bellingham City Hall. (Photo courtesy of City of Bellingham/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of City of Bellingham/Twitter)

Protesters broke into City Hall in Bellingham on Friday, forcing the mayor to be escorted out of the building for safety.

Mayor Seth Fleetwood said it is impossible to ignore the parallels to the storming of the Washington D.C. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

“It was unsettling,” Fleetwood said. “They banged on the door and we got word they had somehow broken it open and were entering, and I was advised to leave.”

Fleetwood said he was ushered out a back door and driven away from the building to his car.

Fleetwood said he was not immediately sure if protesters caused any damage inside the building, other than a broken lock.

Video from inside City Hall also shows protesters ripped down an American flag outside the building, and people stomping on the flag before a man dragged the flag away.

Seattle police detail challenges in stopping protesters from destroying property

Protesters said online they were there to advocate for the homeless who are staying at a large encampment of about 100 tents outside City Hall. Posts in the Facebook group “BOP Mutual Aid” and the Instagram page “Whatcom Focused Youth Movement” called for people to gather. It’s not clear if those causing trouble were part of either group.

As for the controversy over the growing homeless encampment, Fleetwood said the city’s plan on Friday was to ask everyone staying at the camp to move 25 feet away from buildings.

Several fires, including a small propane tank explosion, plus county employees being harassed, prompted the City of Bellingham to start taking steps toward getting the encampment to clear.

Fleetwood said services were being offered to those staying at the camp, but the conditions at the encampment were not safe for the homeless community, nor for employees and residents nearby.

“We seek a peaceful end to this encampment and if there is confrontation, we will not be the aggressors,” Fleetwood said.

The size of the crowd varied, from about 50 people to a maximum of about 150 people at one point.

KGMI radio journalist Joe Teehan went to check out the situation around 9:30 a.m. Friday and said shortly after, the protesters got hostile.

“There were shouts of, ‘He’s taking unauthorized photos, he’s invading privacy.’ Pretty soon I was surrounded by a fairly good number of people,” Teehan said.

Protesters spray-painted him and someone threw a hot chocolate in his face. Another person stole his microphone.

“They started grabbing at my equipment, and I started to back away and one person grabbed my mic and I lost that in the crowd. They were grabbing at my iPad and trying to get that,” Teehan said.

“I’ve never experienced that kind of belligerence,” Teehan said. “We’ve had protests in Bellingham and I’ve never seen anyone act that way.”

Teehan said he was doing OK and was not hurt, though he was shaken up by the incident.

As for the future of the camp, Fleetwood said they will continue to offer people services and try to get those staying there to leave voluntarily. He again said the plan is to get the camp cleared by the end of January.

“This (protest) is not going to deter the city’s plan?,” KIRO 7′s Deedee Sun asked.

“No. If anything, it hardens my resolve,” Fleetwood said.

Written by DeeDee Sun, KIRO 7 TV

Local News

Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
shipping containers...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago
Jaime Herrera Beutler...
Nick Bowman

Washington Rep. Herrera Beutler breaks from GOP party line again over Bannon contempt vote

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was among nine Republicans who voted in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt on Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Protesters break into Bellingham City Hall, mayor rushed out for safety