In Prisoner of Azkaban, when the Fat Lady has left her photo and moved to another photo, she screams that Sirius Black is in the castle. Why does Dumbledore secure the castle and send all students to the great hall in Prisoner of Azkaban? Does he not know that Sirius is a good guy?

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    Hi there! Quick question - have you read the book? If you are in the process of reading it, I'd warn you that answers to this question will spoil part of said book (along, possibly, with other books in the series) – Jenayah Jan 9 at 19:21
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    an odd question - how would you (the reader, reading the book in chronological order) know that Sirius is a good guy, or have any expectation that the characters know he is a good guy at that point in the story? – NKCampbell Jan 9 at 19:27
  • @NKCampbell upon re-reading the series I can imagine how one would wonder why Dumbledore didn't take an other action, save for the key revelation (for this question) at the end of said book – Jenayah Jan 9 at 19:30
  • yeah @Jenayah - maybe the question should just lose that last bit about what Dumbledore knows (since the book makes it clear) – NKCampbell Jan 9 at 19:34
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    Ironically, in Philosopher's Stone when the troll breaks in Dumbledore does the exact opposite - he sends all the students from the great hall to their common rooms. – Harry Johnston Jan 9 at 21:14

Dumbledore didn’t know then Sirius was innocent.

Before Lupin, Sirius, Harry, Ron, and Hermione discovered that Pettigrew was alive and disguised as Scabbers, and Dumbledore found out about that, Dumbledore thought Sirius Black was guilty. Dumbledore was the one who testified to the Ministry that Sirius was the Potters’ Secret Keeper, which he almost certainly wouldn’t do if he knew Sirius was innocent at that time - he wouldn’t want an innocent man convicted and thrown into a jail guarded by creatures he was morally against.

“But Dumbledore held up his hand to stem the flood of explanations.

‘It is your turn to listen, and I beg you will not interrupt me, because there is very little time,’ he said quietly. ‘There is not a shred of proof to support Black’s story, except your word – and the word of two thirteen-year-old wizards will not convince anybody. A street full of eye-witnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew. I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters’ Secret Keeper.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21 (Hermione’s Secret)

Dumbledore may have actually been suspicious of Sirius even before the Potters’ deaths, since he worried about the Potters using Sirius as their Secret Keeper, and offered to do it himself instead. He suspected that someone was a spy and seems to have suspected Sirius specifically.

“So Black was the Potters’ Secret Keeper?’ whispered Madam Rosmerta.

‘Naturally,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘James Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding himself … and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters’ Secret Keeper himself.’

‘He suspected Black?’ gasped Madam Rosmerta.

‘He was sure that somebody close to the Potters had been keeping You-Know-Who informed of their movements,’ said Professor McGonagall darkly. ‘Indeed, he had suspected for some time that someone on our side had turned traitor and was passing a lot of information to You-Know-Who.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder’s Map)

Dumbledore seems to have only discovered the truth after talking to Sirius himself once Pettigrew had escaped.

“My apologies, Poppy, but I need a word with Mr Potter and Miss Granger,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘I have just been talking to Sirius Black –’

‘I suppose he’s told you the same fairy tale he’s planted in Potter’s mind?’ spat Snape. ‘Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive –’

‘That, indeed, is Black’s story,’ said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely through his half-moon spectacles.”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21 (Hermione’s Secret)

Before then, Dumbledore seemed to think Sirius was guilty and therefore a genuine threat to the students.

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