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Seattle Police clear Cal Anderson Park over COVID-19 concerns — ‘Your current conduct is placing yourself and your fellow Seattleites in danger’

A Seattle Police officer drove through the park and attempted to clear Cal Anderson of people with his loudspeaker, threatening criminal prosecution and the possible closure of “all parks,” a video of the early Saturday evening scene shows.

“The state and local government is requesting voluntary compliance with clearing out the parks in an effort to protect the public and end the public health emergency as quickly as possible,” the speaker in the video says. “Your current conduct is placing yourself and your fellow Seattleites in danger and I’m asking you to leave this area.”

CHS checked in with SPD and the City of Seattle about the police action. A department spokesperson said SPD is is trying to help stop usage of elements like sports courts and playgrounds.

“They are supporting these efforts by patrolling parks more frequently, particularly those where people have been seen congregating,” another spokesperson for the city said.

It’s not clear if a complaint led to the Cal Anderson incident but the SPD spokesperson said that there have been calls reporting crowds.

The video posted around 5:15 PM Saturday shows the SPD cruiser driving through the sunny park. In another clip, the vehicle can be seen parked just to the northeast of the Bobby Morris sports field as a message asking people to vacate the park is read.

“Lack of voluntary compliance could result in a closure of all parks which eventually result in parks trespassing and possibly criminal prosecution. Thank you,” it concludes.

The effort to clear the Capitol Hill park follows the closures of sports fields and playground equipment along with acknowledgement from health and government officials that walks and outside activities in which proper “social distancing” can be maintained are beneficial and can be continued even in areas under full “shelter in place” restrictions.

“We want to keep as many outlets for healthy activity and stress relief available,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said Saturday. “By all means, go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Ride your bike. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids. But use good sense,” he added. “Avoid gatherings and team sports. Don’t crowd each other.”

At this point, the restrictions don’t say you can’t walk through Cal Anderson or talk with a friend at a proper distance. But, if you do, you might get another visit from SPD with a loudspeaker message.

The city spokesperson said only that SPD has been asked to remind people about social distancing and “no gatherings/parties/pickup games.”

“They have not been asked to clear the park,” the spokesperson said.

CHS COVID-19

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29 thoughts on “Seattle Police clear Cal Anderson Park over COVID-19 concerns — ‘Your current conduct is placing yourself and your fellow Seattleites in danger’

  1. Well, we elected idiots to run our city government and now we are paying the price. Tactics that will both destroy the economy and have little effect on the overall fatality rate. The Economist has brilliant coverage on this. Maybe politicians are so scared because many are in the high risk demographic. They are protecting themselves, not us. Maybe we should just let the virus run its course. Think about it. There are 7B people on earth. Worst case the virus takes out 3%. That’s 6.8B left. This is not an end of times kind of thing. More like thinning the herd. Happens in the animal kingdom all the time, and is considered a good thing.

    • Mother Jones: report from a nurse:

      “I have patients in their early 40s and, yeah, I was kind of shocked. I’m seeing people who look relatively healthy with a minimal health history, and they are completely wiped out, like they’ve been hit by a truck. This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people. Patients will be on minimal support, on a little bit of oxygen, and then all of a sudden, they go into complete respiratory arrest, shut down and can’t breathe at all.”

      “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is not the flu.’ Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you’re in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don’t know when someone is trying to help you, so you’ll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning.”

      • Fact check. The lowest mortality rate reported was 3.5% in Wuhan. That is INCONCLUSIVE and the result of extreme social distancing protocols plus building multiple additional hospitals as the health system capacities were rapidly pushed beyond capacity. COVID19 is not a number on a chart. It is not a statistic. It is a very inconclusive and wildly out-of-hand situation that is unfolding rapidly.
        Coronaviruses hit the weakest individuals hardest. COVID19 pushes weak immune systems beyond capacity and then people with weak immune systems flood hospitals.
        This pushes healthcare systems rapidly beyond capacity and transforms hospitals into environments that are saturated with the coronaviruses. This brings people together that get/spread coronaviruses. People with any illnesses in the hospital become critically ill (remember COVID19 hits the weakest the hardest).
        Then young/healthy doctors are continually exposed / re-exposed to coronaviruses while working long-hours and arduous shifts with dwindling resources and protective measures. The experts, the doctors, the nurses – get fatigued, tired, ill – compromising their (usually-very-healthy immune system). Immune systems – healthy-as-they-are – become compromised and it is difficult to fight multiple things.
        Once a healthy person’s immune system is weakened (even temporarily) REMEMBER – coronaviruses hit the weakest the hardest. COVID19 is killing people (regardless of health or age) when they are in areas that are saturated with coronaviruses and areas that facilitate the chain of infection. if you can – DON’T GATHER.
        So long the chain of infection is functioning for coronaviruses/COVID19 in a community (through human-to-human contacts and gatherings) — It is very very dangerous to get sick. It is dangerous to get sick from ANY illness right now. DO NOT get sick (from any illness) while coronaviruses are circulating. Do not gather. The longer coronaviruses are circulating via community transmissions – the more likely people of all ages will naturally face a situation where their immunity becomes compromised – catch a cold/ flu etc.. Then – if you continue to gather and contract any illnesses in a group setting, even if you just stay out late partying and feel hung over the next day – these behaviors will make any immune system weak. that moment of weakness is when coronaviruses are deadly. The longer it circulates without treatment nor vaccine… the more people will die. The deaths will be exponential. It will get to you – devilsadvocate. Don’t Gather.
        Like many viruses, coronaviruses co-evolve with human immune systems. That is why variations of vaccines are created each season to anticipate the evolutions of viruses like influenza.
        We do not know the rate at which coronaviruses are evolving – but coronaviruses certainly spread much faster and undetected in human transmission than any pathogen the world has dealt with in a long time. Some young people have have tested positive, recovered, and tested positive again. This is alarming. It is alarming because – if community environments continue to be saturated with the coronaviruses, perhaps the first wave will be mild, but we do not know if the coronaviruses will evolve as quickly as they have spread. We just don’t know. We do not know the capacity of coronaviruses – it is dangerous. Do not underestimate it. Do not gather. Buy some time for experts to develop treatments. Do not gather… It’s not worth your life.

    • And I’m sure you’ll feel fine about all that until it’s you (no you are not immune… you may have less risk, but not zero) or your SO, or your mom or dad that’s doing the dying….

      • I’m happy to take my chances. We are all irrelevant. That’s the strength of the human race. No individual matters. I die. You die. There is zero impact. The world goes on.

      • If you’re that nonchalant about death then what’s wrong with economy tanking, and people struggling for a bit? Based on what you are saying you should indifferent to any outcome that happens.

      • Hi Jeff. I’m guessing this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this. You’re not very smart are you? What I’m saying is that we should make 97% suffer for the benefit of the 3%.

    • Someone else once had something similar to say……

      “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

      I’ll let you look it up if you don’t already know.

      • I’d love to see mankind down to 2-3B people. That might be sustainable at western living standards. We are the locusts. Mankind is a plague on the planet. Thin the herd.

    • First, it *is* true that the trade-off right now between a raging pandemic and a Great Depression style hit to the economy is a horrible one, and we need to get to a place where we can manage the virus and also have something like normal life. The key to getting there is suppression: testing, tracing and treatment. We’re still a long way from that. But let’s say you just think the costs out weigh the benefits, and are not morally persuaded by the idea that we shouldn’t let hundreds and thousands if not millions of (disproportionately) the oldest and sickest among us be left to die. (like devilsadvocate) So just think of the economics of this: if you stopped lockdowns, and sent everyone back to work, lots and lots of people would get sick. You’d have workplaces where half the staff were out. And this would roll through all kinds of places, people who maintain the electrical grid and water treatment and sewage systems, etc… Not only that, as the hospitals filled up and horror stories emerged, you’d have tons of deaths from things other than Covid-19 that couldn’t get treated. This would make people more scared of getting the bug and lead to further retreat. Which is to say, even if you care about economic activity as the only value here, it’s really not clear that anything like “business as usual” is even a possibility in the midst of a roaring pandemic, even if you let everything stay open. In fact, you risk ending up with the worst of both worlds: mass death and sickness AND ALSO an economy that’s essentially shut down.

  2. What a mixed message, shelter in place didn’t mean shelter in place, it means go to the park? Officials should watch the American Experience documentary on the 1918 flu on PBS to see how they’re repeating exactly the same mistakes.

    • Quora has a great article about your question here – https://www.quora.com/What-constitutes-a-lawful-order. I suggest you give it a read.

      Long story short, yes, what this officer is doing would be considered lawful if you were arrested and brought before a judge. Just do the right thing and move along; whether you agree with it or not.

      As Governor Cuomo is quoted as saying, “No, this is not life as usual. Accept it and realize it and deal with it.”

      • If that’s the case (and I agree that it is fwiw), then the officer should not be allowed to frame it as a request for voluntary compliance. It’s impossible for an officer to request voluntary compliance, if such a request actually constitutes a lawful order.

      • You are right. An officer shouldn’t frame a lawful order as being voluntary. However, going by what I read in the article, the officer said:

        “The state and local government is requesting voluntary compliance with clearing out the parks…I’m asking you to leave this area.”

        The voluntary compliance part is from state and local government. The officer was giving a lawful order by asking people to leave the area; not merely suggesting people leave if they want to.

  3. Has anyone seen signs in the parks noting that the playgrounds are closed? Walked by several today with people in them but didn’t see any signage- are they assuming everyone has just “gotten the word”? Surprised that there aren’t at least some laminated notices on the park signs.

      • I was at Gasworks this weekend and the playground had clear closed signs…that parents were naturally ignoring and letting their children play all over. My friend said there was a wedding with hundreds of people at Alki Beach this weekend. Sigh…

  4. The virus is smarter than us – it drives us outside by utter boredom, then we congregate and it reaches out to infect everyone nearby. As the person above notes, it can kill even a healthy person…

  5. So Italy is finally doing what they should have done weeks ago:

    Under the new rules announced late on Saturday, sport and physical activity outside, even individually, is banned. Using vending machines is forbidden.
    The move comes as Italy reported nearly 800 coronavirus deaths on Saturday and saw its toll for the past month reach 4,825, the highest in the world.

  6. This action by the police is at odds with what our local officials and public health experts have been saying….they have encouraged people to get outside and walk in our parks, at the same time practicing social distancing. We must take care of our mental as well as our physical health.

    But there has been an official order not to use the sports courts and playgrounds, which seems like a good idea to me. So, I think the police should be focusing on these areas…and, yes, some signage would help.

    • Your mental health will be better served by not putting others lives at risk. That’s a pretty heavy burden on the conscious, you could use the time to reflect on that.

  7. Seriously, I live across the street from Cal Anderson park and I’m frequently surprised & disappointed by the people who show up in the park “as if nothing were going on.” It’s ridiculous and disrespectful. Imagine if folks in London,during the bombings of WWII, decided they “didn’t feel like” turning their lights off at night.

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