Police raid home at 19th and Spruce, 3 alleged squatters arrested

Three men were arrested in a nighttime raid of a house at 19th and Spruce December 23 after neighbors told police people were squatting in the under-renovation house.

Occupy Seattle got word of the eviction out, and several people showed up to protest.

The three people arrested were booked into King County jail on charges of criminal trespassing, property damage and weapons violations, police say.

@ThatGirlKatt was there and tweeted photos from the scene:

SPD says they first got reports of the occupants December 23, but a CDN community post from December 21 suggests several people (and a dog) have been living there since December 12.

According to King County records, Mountaincrest Credit Union purchased the house out of foreclosure August 28 the home is owned by William and Katherine Brown.

Here’s SPD’s take on the raid:

In the afternoon hours of December 23rd witnesses called 911 to report multiple male and female subjects who had unlawfully entered and occupied a residence under renovation in the 1900 block of East Spruce Street.  Nobody was currently living in the house and the witnesses knew that the subjects occupying the residence did not to live there.

Officers arrived on scene and broadcast over their public address system for the subjects inside the house to come out.  After the third public broadcast by officers was ignored, officers made entry into the residence and discovered two adult male suspects inside who had no legal right to be there.  Another male suspect was attempting to enter the house when contacted by officers.   

Preliminary investigation indicates that the suspects entered the house and subsequently damaged the interior of the house with graffiti.  They also left garbage, open containers of food, and were cooking inside the house on a portable, gas-operated stove. 

 Officers took all three adult male suspects into custody for charges including Criminal Trespassing, Property Damage and weapons violations.  Other criminal charges may be forthcoming. 

All three suspects will be booked into the King County Jail. 

This remains an active and on-going investigation.

The Occupy Seattle Twitter account questioned the police action shortly after the raid ended:

Squatting has become more and more common (or more conspicuous) as part of the Occupy movement. An unfinished duplex at 23rd and Alder has been occupied by a collective of people since mid November. That group of unnamed defendants have been summoned to court for eviction. The court date has been set for December 28.

46 thoughts on “Police raid home at 19th and Spruce, 3 alleged squatters arrested

  1. first of all this home was not being renovated~ it was sitting empty for years~
    the weapons charge was a small pocket knife found on a protester outside the home, who was illegally detained !
    the police showed up with over twelve squad cars/ marked and unmarked
    plus the SWAT team van full of heavily armed police officers
    to arrest two men living inside because they are homeless
    this home was where a small group of artists lived and were trying to create a drug and alcohol free community
    the small group of protesters outside numbered over fifty
    and the photo in this article is of the neighbors house, who made us hot cocoa and let us sit on their porch, thank you very much

  2. I’m really sad to hear the squat was raided but i am THRILLED to hear that some neighbors were supportive and 50 people came out to protest!
    Still, back to reality, now these folks are homeless once again… and in jail no less.
    Who doesn’t sometimes have “garbage” and “open food containers” in their house? Maybe they were cooking…
    Also, they’re artists, the “graffiti” was probably murals. Also, yeah, that house was definitely NOT under renovation–the police are lying, big surprise–it was just moldering there, empty.
    I hope they come back and occupy the empty house down the street from where I live. I’ll make some cocoa. :)

  3. What about the graffiti? Is the police report lying about that as well? The home does not belong to them and they are ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING it. It is simply not within their rights to make the decision to live in a home owned by somebody else. How would you feel if you walked up on somebody that had gone through your bag and decided to take it upon themselves to use your private possessions? I doubt you would be very happy about it. The homeowner has rights as well and those rights are being violated by people who take it upon themselves to squat there.

  4. When did it become acceptable to take what is not yours and justify it as sticking to the man (Occupy). Get a job, pay for a home, or be homeless – it really is that simple. Gimme Gimmme Gimmee Gimmee! Take Take Take. It’s gotten so old.

  5. I think the police did a fine job in response, and I hope that they continue to act in this manner with each occurrence of people trespassing and squatting. Good job SPD.

  6. As a neighbor of that home I watched the whole thing. For one thing that house has been vacant for nearly five years and nobody was renovating it, that is simply not true.

    I have no idea why the police raided the house when years before the house right next to it (actually the one in the photo above) was an abandoned home that became a crack house and they didn’t raid that one even once. That crack house was a nuicance and made disturbances every night. The occupiers were quiet and cleaned the place up. It was better having them there than the empty and uncared for house, and certainly better than another crack house. I hope the occupiers come back.

  7. “gimme gimme gimme”, you sound like one of those greedy bankers. You know, the wotrhless rich ones that crashed the economny a few years ago.

  8. Regardless of ownership. If people were residing in the house and there was not probable cause, such as immediate evidence of breaking and entering or another crime, the police would need a warrant to enter.

    In order to evict the occupants of a structure the owner would need to go through the formal eviction process, like what is happening at the Immortal Jellyfish house on 23rd and Alder.

    However a few steps must be taken to establish residence, like mail being sent in your name, utility bills, coming and going through the front door (however while it is illegal to break in, it is not illegal to enter through previous vandalism, basically act like anyone else who lives in a house etc.

    This seems like a very heavy handed police response, especially with some of the other crap that happens in the neighborhood. In fact there is a crack house by my workplace that the cops would not enter because they said they needed the permission of the owner.

    Squatters or not like all Americans they are entitled to equal protection under the law, which includes not having AR15 wielding police kick in you door in the middle of the night without a warrant.

  9. I can not believe you would indicate our SPD or news media were either liars or exagerating, as we CD residents have had enough experience with these entities to know they never lie, or abuse their preceived authority! Shame,… on someone.

  10. No SWAT vans in the SPD? Tell that to the SWAT team I witnessed raid the 10th and Union building at 3am a couple weeks ago. I didn’t witness them exiting a particular vehicle, but they clearly loaded their battering rams, etc., in the back of a van.

  11. Hey KarlWalther
    I was also involved in squatting in London decades ago and in Christianna in Copenhagen, which is still going on. These were Publically owned properties and the laws there supported occupying public property. We do not have those laws here and the properties occupied are privately owned. Big diffrence along with the intent of the squatters.

  12. To squat is to steal. I grew up on the hill and remember the 70’s and 80’s. Had some relationship with this sort of crowd and even did my part in partying in squatted spaces.

    I grew up, they didn’t. If you are not contributing then you are a leech. OWS lost its message with those of us that agreed but then pulled the whole homeless BS sob story.

    Quit stealing peoples stuff!

  13. Or and entitled lazy person that doesn’t want to work, or doesn’t now how to work. Potato = Pohtato.

  14. The house can sit there ’til it rots. That is no excuse to squat in someone’s house. IT-IS-NOT-UP-TO-YOU-TO-TAKE-IT!

  15. Y’all going on and on about stealing someone’s rotting years-vacant property have your priorities all fucked up. You seriously telling me you’d rather some people live out on the street than take refuge in a shelter that’s not being used?

    You think property is more important than human life, point blank. You are sick.

  16. Yes. Someone’s property is not to be distributed to the masses. We are not a communist country. What would happen if someone swung by your house and emptied it because they had nothing? Funny it wouldn’t be so charitable when you get screwed out of your hard earned money.

  17. i used to work in a business in that area. We called that area “The Trees”, because of the street names (Fir, Alder, and Spruce.) Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s it was common knowledge that those streets (and some of the surrounding ones), in the areas between 19th Ave and 23rd Ave, were loaded with crack houses. While I don’t condone squatting, I’d rather that SPD dealt with the drugs and violence in the area rather then squatters.

  18. That’s exactly it, prioritizing property over people. And that’s exactly why I’d rather have the occupiers squatting there than any of these horrible people live there normally. The bank that supposedly owns the house isn’t interested in the property, nor is anybody else. Enough with all the bs about “stealing”, as if we were a nation of laws anyway.

  19. What don’t you understand? IT’S AN ABANDONED HOUSE AND NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN IT. When hte law proiritized profit and property over people then the LAW IS WRONG. As if law matters any more anyway. When the “too big to fail” bankers can sell fraudulent products and foreclose on houses they don’t even own without facing the justice system then I will not see some squatters in an abandonded house as criminals. The rule of law is OVER.

  20. Though nowhere near as versed on these property legal issues as you appear to be, I had also understood that there were laws about claiming abandoned property, and homesteading in Washington State. I know of vacant land on Mercer Island that was claimed by a homesteader in the 70s, based on his having lived on it for years, followed the legal requirement of improvements, and showing that he had established residency for a certain period. The previous owner had not visited the acerage for many years, had paid all taxes, etc, but lost it anyways.

    As to the legal issue of eviction for these folk, by SPD, I agree that there are extreamly envolved and drawn out legal requirements to getting a person or people out of a place, once they establish residency. It does seem these folks were at least recognized as residents by neighbors, so I wonder what laws the SPD followed to authorize their action?

  21. Do we know that these folks were OWC, or just homeless artists that our ever brave SPD forcefully evicted? So wonderful that the news media just happened to be in the neighborhood to film and report upon our brave, fearless SPD!

  22. As a neighbor of E Spruce St, I can say that the house in question was certainly not under renovations. It was sitting abandoned for awhile. These people moved in, kept quiet, drug and alcohol free, and attempted to make the place less of an eyesore. Now instead I am treated with boards nailed over the door and police tape strewn across the front yard. It sure looks pretty ghetto now. Thanks SPD for making my neighborhood extra gritty!

    And did you seriously need 30+ officers, a swat van looking thing, and a firetruck to kick out a few kid? What a waste of tax dollars.

    I’d understand if they wanted to to keep us safe, but those occupiers weren’t causing trouble.

  23. Twitter and text are dangerous things with these days calling in deviant re-enforcements in minutes, I think the response was warranted. Thanks SPD.

  24. House vacancy is the highest it has ever been in the history of this country. Homelessness is also at record highs.

    It’s a matter of physics. People move from crowded, densely-occupied spaces into empty houses.

  25. I empathize with the original intensions of the Occupy Movement but in recent months,those intensions have morphed into something different. When “protestors” show up at a house where squatters are breaking the law (allegedly), defacing property to which they have no right (even if they call it art), and generally living in unsafe conditions, they are breaking the law and the police has every right to serve evictions. The use of the portable gas stove is particularly disturbing as those are generally not for indoor use and together with any garbage, paper or whatever laying around could start a fire and endanger the neighbors property as well as their own lives. What the representatives of the Occupy Movement are saying is that if someone came up to me and handed me a diamond necklace or the keys to a car, i would be under no obligation to check on the legality/legitmacy of that offer and use both objects for whatever i feel like. Perhaps the ownership details of that sailboat should be looked into as well. the Occupy movement in our city has degenerated from a legitimate protest with legitmate causes to a group of people full of excuses rather than self accountability still required in our still liberal city. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if the property was abandoned or empty for years. It does not belong to the squatters. Just because you feel that a law is wrong doesn’t give you the right to disobey it and expect there to be no consequences.

  26. Tucker you have hit the nail on the head and nobody can put it better. Many people have joined the movement because they heard it is a free place to camp and eat, not because they believe in anything. It’s not a form of free speech or a right to protest, it’s pure ingnorance and just people seeing how far they can go to get on the news.

  27. Tucker: Police did not serve evictions. Occupy Seattle does not have representatives, and made no collective statement about this incident.

  28. Well done, SPD. Thank you.

    While I would prefer to have these type of squatters, to crack-house squatters, this and many other comments here are false alternatives.

    We do not know the squatters have nowhere else to go.
    We do not know that if these squatters are gone, crack-heads will take-up occupation of these houses.
    We do not know that if these squatters do not squat in this house, that they will have no choice but to live in the open air, homeless, and victimized by nature and other similarly situated people.

    The heavily charged language is rediculous.
    Take your short sighted reiteous indignation elsewhere please.

  29. The OWS movement has severely derailed if they’ve had to resort to squatting to send a message. Isn’t it to protest the 1% (or really, the 0.01%)? What kind of message does squatting and painting unwanted murals send? You guys really need to get your act together if you want to be taken seriously. Regardless of what the 1% is doing legally or not, these types of actions only make the cause look unorganized and weak.

  30. I hadn’t heard about this “occupation” before the raid, but from the comments here it sounds like they were quiet, clean, and had the support of their neighbors. It’s a shame that they did things the right way and got raided, while even the squatters at 23rd and Alder, who have gone out of their way to antagonize their neighbors, get their day in court.

  31. EXACTLY!!!!
    Yes, there are homeless people and we should continue to find them proper places to live.

    But it is not right to take over someone’s property and claim it as your own.

    Because, as this article clearly shows us an example, where would they stop? Suppse someone’s home is vacant due to a medical emergency. Or what if you leave your home to take care of an aging parent? Or your job takes you to a third world country to help with medical care or food relief. Or simply leave to go on a hard earned vacation? I know someone in each of those instances.

    Should they or anyone have to worry that someone is moving in because squatters feel is their right to occupy a vacant home?

    And the sympathizers will say these houses were different, and yes, it seems they are. But they are someone’s personal property and it is stealing to take them. There is no other excuse. Stealing is illegal.

  32. they didn’t do things the “right” way. They entered a home to which they had no legal right. That’s breaking and entering. These people will get their day in court for that crime

  33. To be fair, that Arlington situation does look like part of Occupy or a protest, from what I can see. Whether or not you think that makes a difference could be up for debate, I suppose. None of the squats we have covered so far involved homes full of people’s personal belongings, pet ashes, etc, so this is not totally comparable.

    Thanks for the link. What a sad story.

  34. Tom, are you actually reading the full reports (not just PC) of what was found in the house? I fail to see how taking a giant poo on the floor of any house improves or beautifies it.

  35. Hey Bee.
    Im so glad to know that you are interested and ready for the Squatting Weaselism and Weaseltry that those Weasels bring. Let us know where the street is that you live on so that i can redirect the Squatters on my street-to the vacancy on your street. Mostly because you wished for it and also because im sure they’ll need somewhere quick to go to after they,re forced off of SPRUCE st.

  36. The 19th and Spruce st. Property has been cleaned and cleared out. Today the 4 bedroom 2bathroom house is listed and advertised for rent. The “for RENT” sign is posted on the house with details and contact information.