Seattle school squatters warn of 'itchy trigger finger'

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:


Seattle, Wash. - Horace Mann School is still being occupied by a group of people that might have a gun and is on the lookout for police officers. 

Someone inside the Seattle Public Schools-owned building left KIRO 7 a voicemail after a photographer working for the station shined a light to take video Saturday night.

"I was wondering if you could tell your cameraman to please turn his light off because we thought it was the police and our guy up on the roof, he's got an itchy trigger finger,” the man in the message said. “So if you would please turn that off, that'd be great."

Earlier Saturday, people at Horace Mann defiantly wheeled in a generator after power was cut about 10:30 a.m.

“You see we're keeping things moving, regardless of whether they turn the lights off,” a man at the school said. He would not give his name.

Friday night, City Light crews were pushed back when they tried to turn the lights out. The main man stopping them from doing their job was Omari Garrett.

Garrett is a well-known community activist, convicted 11 years ago of assaulting former Mayor Paul Schell with a bullhorn. The attack shattered bones in Schell's eye socket and nose.

At the school, KIRO 7 has also seen his son K. Wyking Garrett, who ran for mayor in 2009. They both are part of a group calling themselves AfricaTown.

In mid-August they occupied and barricaded the school, demanding the district let them use it for after school and summer programs for black students. The school district tried to work with the group to get them to leave.

However, on Friday a district spokeswoman said anyone at Horace Mann is trespassing and the district is working with police to remove them. 

The district plans on turning Horace Mann into a new alternative high school, and construction delays are costing taxpayers about a thousand dollars a day – about $53,000 thousand so far.

Horace Mann School was built in 1902 and was last used as an elementary school in 1968. The building was then used as a music annex until it became an alternative program site in 1970.

Garrett said his group has no plans to leave the school.

“We’re going to court on this,” he said.