SPD says that
three four adult males were arrested as police continue to search the building after entering the barricaded facility Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATE: Police say Tuesday’s raid began around 1 PM and has been in planning for “a while” as SPD had heard threats of a sniper and explosives at the barricaded facility. An SPD spokesperson said the SWAT raid was planned for a time when intelligence gathered by the department indicated there would be no children at the site. SPD says only four men were found in the building in the raid — three were arrested immediately and a fourth was found after about 30 minutes of searching, hiding in an attic space. All four will likely be cited for criminal trespass. SPD said its arson and bomb squad was searching the building for any weapons or explosives.
The arrests come after months of talks between the school district and groups occupying the building dragged on. Schools has sent the Africa Town and More for Mann groups multiple letters notifying them they would need to clear the building to make way for planned renovations so the school can re-open next fall. The groups continued to occupy the building despite those demands.
“We want to continue to show the unified community of African-American parents, educators and students working together to take responsibility for the education of our children,” the More for Mann group said in a statement earlier this year. “Now is the time to rectify the past inequities and ineffective methods to educate our children.”
UPDATE x2: Wyking Garrett, founding director of the Umoja Peace Center and a member of the Africa Town Center for Education and Innovation, said an Africa Town task force that had been formed to work with schools last talked to the district at a presentation at the last school board meeting and that the Mann groups did not know this was going to happen today.
“We were all shocked and surprised,” Garrett said.
Garrett said that talk of a gun in the school was a “distraction.” “It’s a tragedy,” he said of the way things ending up unfolding.
Garrett said the More for Mann movement isn’t over. “We’re going to continue to say the same things,” he said.
“They talk about parent engagement, this is parent led movement.”
Garrett said the group will continue to push to use the building.
“We’re still committed to honoring the legacy of African Americans in that building,” Garrett said. “It’s an ideal location. Of course the community is going to move forward.”
Garrett said the larger issues behind the Africa Town effort are far from over saying the real issue is black students of in Seattle schools are being excluded from the curriculum and funding they deserve.
“The issues did not go away today, the police can not make those issues go away,” Garrett said.
Here is the SPD report on the incident:
At the request of the Seattle Public Schools, Seattle police entered the Horace Mann school building in the Central District Tuesday and arrested three people for criminal trespassing.
School district officials requested police assistance after several groups began using the vacant school without authorization from the district, delaying planned renovations of Horace Mann and costing the school district tens of thousands of dollars in construction penalties.
School district officials began negotiations with the group in an attempt to come to a peaceful resolution, while also working with Seattle police and the City Attorney’s office to determine of
While the school district was able to negotiate with the majority of the group’s members, a small contingent remained inside the Horace Mann building and refused to leave. Members of the smaller group claimed to be in possession of explosives, and warned that anyone who approached the building could come under fire from a rooftop sniper.
After working with school district officials and monitoring the situation at Horace Mann for weeks, Seattle police learned that only a few members of the group would be inside the building today.
As this smaller group presented a lower risk for an arrest team, police requested that nearby Garfield High School go into shelter-in-place, and stationed additional uniformed officers on the school’s campus shortly after 12:30 PM. An SPD tactical team then entered the Horace Mann building, where officers arrested three people for criminal trespassing without incident.
As of 1:15 pm, police were still searching the building for other trespassers.
Police will continue to work with the school district to secure the school site.