Olympia residents are rightfully angered and frustrated by the violence, vandalism and destruction happening repeatedly in our downtown and just last night on our Westside. Our community is trying to find its way through a global pandemic, to find its balance during the resulting economic uncertainties, and find its place in a critical, national and local conversation about racial justice. We are not helped and deserve better than a destructive mob with no visible purpose other than to destroy property.
The last few nights, we have seen groups of 50-75 people showing up with the sole intent of wreaking havoc on our downtown, instilling fear in our residents, and threatening our community’s sense of safety. This happened this weekend on the 4th of July holiday, resulting in significant damage to Olympia City Hall and many downtown businesses. And it has happened nightly since and has now included Westside businesses.
These groups have broken windows, set fires, damaged property and physically assaulted by- standing residents and Olympia police officers.
“They may think they just broke a window, but they are attacking the livelihood of workers dependent on that business,” said Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby. “And it is yet another, setback for the small, locally owned businesses who are struggling to survive through the COVID shutdown. There are people and people’s livelihoods behind those windows.”
The groups have tended to operate at night with their faces covered. They gather quickly to do as much damage to businesses and residences as possible, then run away and hide from police. The Olympia Police Department arrested four people while responding to last night’s attacks and will continue to make arrests when it is safe to do so.
“We are bringing on extra staff to quickly address the criminal behavior,” said Interim Police Chief Aaron Jelcick. “This behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We will hold people accountable.”