Four arrested in Bellingham as city workers clear camp at city hall

Jan 28, 2021, 2:05 PM | Updated: 11:11 pm
Bellingham camp...
A view of the tent encampment outside Bellingham City Hall. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham PD/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of Bellingham PD/Twitter)

Four people were arrested Thursday for crimes, including disorderly conduct and assault third degree as city workers started to clear a homeless camp set up outside Bellingham City Hall.

Three officers were assaulted, with no known injuries, according to Bellingham Police Chief Flo Simon.

Bellingham police had moved in to secure the area Thursday morning in order to allow public works crews to clean the camp and library lawn, and to help encampment residents find safe shelter. Streets in the downtown Civic Center area closed to traffic, blocked by police officers as well as people trying to stop the cleanup.

The tent encampment on the lawn in front of Bellingham City Hall started in mid-November, and later expanded to the north lawn of the Central Library. It had been given notice that all people and belongings must be moved by 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

People, belongings at Bellingham homeless camp must move by Friday

Officials asked for help encouraging campers to find shelter elsewhere, and said space is available at the Base Camp shelter and at its overflow facility.

An update from the city read: “There have been significant, ongoing safety concerns in and around the encampment for the past several weeks, including a fortified structure containing unknown items outside the front doors. All those at the encampment were given notice and the opportunity to collect or store their property and leave the lawn.”

While the city reported many at the encampment were leaving the area peacefully and willingly, several protesters reportedly assaulted officers who had been maintaining a safety line.

Police Chief Simon made clear in a written statement posted to the city’s website that law enforcement’s responsibility was to establish and maintain a safe working space for public works employees to clean up the lawn in front of the city hall and library.

In a statement from Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood, he acknowledged that the cleanup action was occurring before the stated deadline, and said urgent, emergency action was taken to “protect the safety of all.”

“We initiated the clean up early because we received credible information from multiple sources that caused us to accelerate our plans,” Fleetwood said. “Our civic center was becoming the target of agitators far more intent on mayhem than working toward any social good. More specifically, we received information regarding certain groups known to have a history of confrontation. They put out a call throughout the Northwest to gather in Bellingham on Friday.”

“We acted today to reduce the risk of further injury, violence, and vandalism by those who are using the plight of our community’s most vulnerable to further their own agenda,” he continued.

Last Friday, protesters broke into city hall, forcing the mayor to be escorted out of the building for safety. Online, protesters said they were there to advocate for the homeless who are staying at the large encampment of about 100 tents. 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.

Read the full statements from the mayor and police chief, and find updates on the encampment here.

Local News

early primary, kim wyman...
Nick Bowman

Report: Washington Sec. of State Wyman could be leaving role for new job with Biden administration

Sources tell CNN that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman could be leaving her role for a new job with the Department of Homeland Security.
1 day ago
vaccine, booster doses...
MyNorthwest Staff

Booster doses of COVID vaccines available in Washington for eligible individuals

Booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccine types are now available for certain individuals in Washington, and can be safely mixed and matched.
1 day ago
salmon hatchery...
Dalton Day

Potential ‘irreparable damage’ to Puget Sound orcas over alleged illegal salmon hatchery expansion

Conservationists allege that Fish and Wildlife has expanded salmon hatcheries without lawful compliance under SEPA, thereby damaging native salmon and orca whales.
1 day ago
seattle relief fund...
Kathryn Altena

Mayor launches Seattle Relief Fund to help families impacted by COVID

Seattle city leaders announced the launch of a new relief fund Monday to help struggling families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

State recovers $495,000 in stolen unemployment benefits with ‘innovative’ legal strategy

For the first time, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has used asset forfeiture to repossess $495,000 in fraudulent unemployment claims.
1 day ago
Washington Daylight Saving Time...
Nick Bowman

Washington looks for ‘alternative’ paths to end years-long wait for permanent Daylight Saving Time

With the state setting their clocks back again on Nov. 7, Sen. Murray says her office is ramping up work to end the twice-yearly time changes.
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.
Four arrested in Bellingham as city workers clear camp at city hall