Young Kwak photo
Excelsior Youth Center
Five kids at Excelsior Youth Center were arrested Monday night after a brawl broke out in the gym, according to the Spokane Police Department.
Several staff members and a police officer reported being assaulted during the incident, but there were apparently no serious injuries.
Police responded to Excelsior Youth Center, located at 3754 W. Indian Trail Road, just after 8 pm after hearing reports of "multiple fights" in the gym, and that the fire alarm was going off. When police arrived, they found 15 kids brawling, with dozens of other people crowding the gym. Police tried to break up the fight, but "the crowd continually yelled expletives at law enforcement and physically intervened during the arrest process," according to an SPD press release.
The Spokane Fire Department and more than a dozen police units responded to the scene. The five kids were eventually arrested and booked into Spokane County Juvenile Detention on a combined total of 18 charges, including criminal mischief, fourth-degree assault and third-degree assault on law enforcement.
Police say one officer was elbowed in the face by a kid, and two other officers sustained minor injuries. A total of seven Excelsior staff members reported being assaulted by kids.
Excelsior provides outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation services for kids who have issues with drug abuse, mental health or behavioral health. It also has a residential child welfare program for foster kids who have demonstrated "severe and extreme" behavior on a daily basis in other foster placements. On average, according to Excelsior, kids in the child welfare program have bounced around 14 different foster care placements before going to Excelsior.
As the Inlander
explored in a recent cover story about Excelsior and the state of foster care in Washington
, it's not uncommon for Excelsior kids to be sent to jail. From April 2016 to April 2017, a total of 44 different Excelsior kids were sent to Spokane County Juvenile Detention, according to the county. Juvenile attorneys representing these kids argue that foster kids should not be placed at Excelsior in the first place, believing the environment leads kids into crime, and that the staff too often calls police when a foster family wouldn't. For some kids, the crimes they commit at Excelsior can result in them being shipped out of state, because the Department of Social and Health Services has nowhere else to put them.
Neighbors have also complained about the facility's drain on police resources, and the high amount of crime in the surrounding area.
Excelsior Executive Director Andrew Hill argues that the kids coming to Excelsior already have severe behavioral issues, and that the program works for a majority of kids.
The Spokane Police Department, according to their press release, "is committed to working with all of the educational facilities throughout the city to ensure a safe environment for students and staff."
Excelsior has not responded to a request for comment on last night's brawl. We'll update this article if we hear back from them.