SEATTLE - Protesters were dispersed by police Tuesday evening after gathering at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle.
The unrest was sparked by a press release that appeared to be from the hotel claiming to offer shelter for the homeless as dense smoke from nearby wildfires has led to hazardous air quality in the area.
A spokesperson for Hyatt told Fox News that the hotel did not distribute press release and would be investigating the matter.
"At this time, we have not been contacted by the City of Seattle or King County with the request to temporarily shelter homeless individuals, and we are not housing homeless individuals at Grand Hyatt Seattle at this time," the spokesperson said. "We are always open to collaborative discussions on how Hyatt can further care for our communities."
Instead, the press release was put out by an "ad hoc collective of diverse organizers" who admitted to setting the whole thing up as a ruse.
"We knew the Hyatt wasn't opening rooms and that neither Seattle City nor King County councils were funding emergency shelter," the unidentified activists wrote in a statement shared by climate advocacy group 350 Seattle on Twitter. "It may surprise you but we don't like to lie. In the age of misinformation, we value truth more than ever. But right now, the truth is far less believable than the lies we told."
The statement goes on to accuse Seattle and King County leadership of not providing "basic human needs to those who are at the biggest risk of harm."
"We want to believe that our elected officials and corporate leaders have the compassion and motivation to prioritize human welfare but we never see it," the activists said. "Instead we see the Mayor vetoing a funding initiative to provide support for Black and Brown communities...and brutalize protestors and destroy the meager possessions of unsheltered people. We see inaction on much-needed climate policy. We want to see something different."
Activists are demanding Seattle and King County leadership override Mayor Jenny Durken's veto on the JumpStart Seattle Initiative and defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50% to be reallocated to Black and Brown communities.
In addition, they are demanding the money be used, along with emergency funds, towards housing in hotels and vacant spaces for the homeless and that a requirement be added to the City's charter that all houseless individuals are offered a room during disasters.
"If the City doesn't act by providing inclement housing vouchers, then we are asking for corporate partners to become stewards of the oppressed and actually give back to the causes you publicly claim to support," the activists added. "Use your imagination. Use your power. Use your hearts. Your constituents are capable of all of this and more, and you work for us. Join us in creating a better world."
A spokesperson for the city told Fox News earlier this week that a temporary shelter would be opened where homeless people can get some respite from the smoky air, but noted the coronavirus pandemic has complicated the city's ability to offer additional assistance.
"It’s a balance we have to strike, taking COVID protocols into consideration for any mass/indoor shelter,"the spokesperson said. "Seattle & King County has advised that agencies should open facilities only if they possess high-quality air filtration systems and if they can comply with public health guidance as it relates to temperature, screening, social distancing, capacity restrictions, face coverings, and other health and hygiene measures."
According to an analysis by the Washington Department of Ecology, the state has set a record for the longest exposure to hazardous air quality since 2006. Dozens of wildfires are currently raging across California, Oregon and Washington, forcing at least 600,000 people to flee their homes.