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Homelessness activists occupy Cal Anderson Shelterhouse — UPDATE: Swept

UPDATE 8/14/20 9:05 AM: A morning sweep by Seattle Police and the parks department cleared cleared out campers and tents and met limited resistance. Police grouped outside the park along with a collection of SWAT officers and a Bearcat vehicle starting around 8 AM and began the process of sweeping through the “temporarily closed” public space clear out the campers and activists. A small number of people could be seen bundling up tents and possessions as other stragglers continued to argue with police officers, many in riot gear. A few people climbed trees and slowed the process but did not resist when commanded to climb down and exit the park. We do not yet have details of any arrests involved with the clearance which was still underway as of 9 AM.

UPDATE 3:33 PM: The city says SPD made four arrests Friday morning.

A statement from Seattle Parks shared with CHS by Converge Media lays out the timeline of the morning’s sweep:

On Tuesday, August 11, group of approximately seven individuals forced entry into a building in Cal Anderson Park that is referred to as “The Shelter House.” The shelter house is a locked facility on Parks’ property and is only accessible to parks’ employees.

Cal Anderson Park has been closed for restoration following recent demonstrations and continues to be closed to the public. On Tuesday at about 7:00 p.m., Parks staff came upon the group occupying the shelter house and asked the group to leave. The group requested that they have more time to hand out water and masks.

Parks staff negotiated with the group and told the group that they could remain until 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening. When Parks’ staff returned at 8:00 p.m., the group refused to leave. Parks staff returned a third time at 11 p.m. and the group said that they would be leaving shortly.

Parks staff returned to Cal Anderson on Wednesday morning and it appeared that additional individuals had joined the original group in occupying the shelter house. The group refused to vacate again when asked.

On Wednesday, Parks requested Seattle Police Department’s assistance in clearing the trespassers from Cal Anderson park. The Seattle Police Department went to the park and met with the group that evening. Seattle PD requested the individuals leave the shelter house and, again, the group did not comply.

After conferring with Parks and the Mayor’s Office, the Seattle Police Department responded to Cal Anderson park this morning at 8:00 a.m. to remove the group that had been trespassing in the shelter house, as well as others who were in the closed park.

Parks staff was on-site to assist with the removal and storage of any personal belongings, to begin to repair any damage to the park, and to relock all the park’s facilities.

The Seattle Police Department arrested four individuals for criminal trespass.


ORIGINAL REPORT 8/13/20: A group of homeless campers and activists is occupying the Cal Anderson Shelterhouse, the small clubhouse available for rent for gatherings and meetings on the edge of the park next to Bobby Morris playfield and park’s restrooms.

“The park remains closed and we are working with our partners to reach out to any unhoused individuals while following the moratorium on encampment removals,” a Seattle Parks Department spokesperson told CHS Wednesday about the situation.

Wednesday night, Converge Media visited the facility and learned more about the group’s efforts including demands for new resources in the park for homeless individuals:

When the park is open, the Shelterhouse structure is typically available for rent and is sometimes used for community meetings. Capitol Hill’s community council used the building for a time.

The Stranger talked with organizers about the effort. “This is not CHOP 2.0, this is just people utilizing a building to help the homeless,” one said.

The new Cal Anderson camp’s formation follows the city clearance of a camp set up on the Seattle Central lawn in the weeks after the end of CHOP.

Many homeless and under-sheltered people also were part of the original CHOP camp before SPD swept and cleared the protest zone from E Pine and Cal Anderson in early June.

Encampments around the city have grown during COVID-19 despite the city’s attempts at creating increased emergency shelter capacity. Tents and camps also fill other public spaces including areas around the Miller Community Center. The city has restricted circumstances in which encampments can be removed during the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to the Shelterhouse effort, the “closed” Cal Anderson has continued to be a gathering space for protests and marches as well as the occasional COVID-taunting group baptism. Activist groups have revived workshops and “general assembly” meetings that were a regular part of the space during CHOP. And there have also been arrests and clashes with police.

The new Cal Anderson camp and occupation comes as the city is launching what it calls a community effort to recognize the Black Lives Movement and CHOP with new, permanent features in the park.

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28 thoughts on “Homelessness activists occupy Cal Anderson Shelterhouse — UPDATE: Swept

  1. Cal Anderson is closed? That’s news to me, I’ve walked through and hung out there a number of times recently and there have been plenty of others around too.

  2. Occupying a public space, in a city park no less, is obviously illegal, as is all the graffiti vandalism. The homeless and their enablers are taking full advantage of the city’s moratorium on clearing camps.

    This is no different than CHOP (albeit more limited in scope), and the city/Parks Dept needs to act to end it. Cal Anderson Park is for the use of ALL citizens, not just a small minority of activists.

    • The homeless and their enablers…

      Right, because if the people who help the homeless (or enablers as you’ve deemed them) disappeared, the homeless would instantly stop being homeless. To quote Lucille Bluth: “have they tried not being poor?”

      I think one of the big issues with the homeless crisis is that the people yelling loudest about the crisis know absolutely nothing about the homeless, yet make overly broad assumptions that they then base their opinions off, which means that real solutions don’t get implemented.

      • If you think the folks critical of the homeless are yelling the loudest, you’ve never been to a Seattle City Council meeting for public comments.

  3. The City Council is chasing out Amazon and other businesses and replacing them squatters that destroy public infrastructure and require an unsustainable amount of resources. Thanks Seattle.

    • This city has the potential to be absolutely amazing; with the location, natural beauty, cutting edge companies both big and small. It is, however, run by total incompetent, activist, l*sers, who don’t have the first idea on how to run a city. As a person who was born on first hill and a 4th generation Seattleite I feel apart of this city, and it is truly infuriating with has happened.

      • The irony is that many of the people who took over Cal Anderson and CHOP don’t live in the neighborhood. Many don’t live in the city or are new to it. Nothing speaks volumes that people like you and I who have lived in the area for generations are being “displaced” by people who are colonizing it (under the guise of anti-colonialism) who are gentrifying it (under the guise of anti-gentrification) and claim they are preserving the history of the neighborhood when in fact they are erasing the history and creating a future that omits any and everyone who doesn’t abide by their ideological agenda.

    • Despite reports to the contrary there has not been a homeless population living in the park in recent years – until now. After Light Rail opened in 2016, the park did not have any homeless people living in it and it was a nice place to spend time during the summer. CHOP killed all the grass and the city left the park to rot after CHOP was cleared. I’m not sure why the city stopped watering the grass and turned off the fountains because Volunteer Park is not in this shape. Basically the occupation ruined the park for the neighborhood to use for the entire summer. It’s a shame because this is one of the few green spaces in the neighborhood to spend time and these spaces are especially important during the pandemic. I fail to see how this is social progress in any sense.

  4. Since it’s no longer usable as a park, why doesn’t the city just declare Cal Anderson an open arena? Two delegates each from the Evangelists, homeless, BLMers and Proud Boys will be chosen for a battle royale – no police interference (just like now) – and whomever wins gets the park? The winner will also get a victory tour through the city. We can repeat this each year and even televise it to raise money. The money will fund a Horn of Plenty. Because when we raise the cry, the brave will heed the call. One Horn of Plenty for us all.

    • I didn’t know other people actually paid attention to the lyrics to Horn of Plenty.

      “Oh Capitol
      Your glorious diamond shine
      A tribute to
      The darkest days behind
      One Horn of Plenty for us all”

    • They started a fire last week, police and the fire engines were there for almost an hour and,now, they have kegs of beer everywhere. The smell is just wonderful! come on- 6 tents!!

  5. I’m worried about Miller Community Center. Every time I go by there, it seems a new tent is put up. This could accelerate that process. As a family without a yard, we rely on Miller for outdoor time, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a safe approach to the area.

    • After 20 years living a block away from Miller park, I’m out. Out of Seattle proper. The homeless have really taken over the park and nothing is done. Year after year we hear bs from the city and people that things will change and nothing changes. I think the change is that Seattle had decided that being a home to homeless is its identity.

  6. I understand why this group was asked to leave, but they were doing some good for the community, and the way they were treated was awful. The optics are terrible, why did the SPD show up for this, but not the GIANT public health hazard that was the “rally” in the park last weekend? I’ve also been to the park many times in the past few weeks, there have been no signs saying it’s closed, and lots of people just chilling out and visiting with friends. We need our parks now more than ever. Frustrating. It feels like as a neighborhood, the SPD is punishing us for voting for a city council that’s listening to their constituents and holding them accountable, if I’m honest. Feels like there are very different standards for who is allowed to flout the rules in honor of their beliefs.

    • So you don’t remember CHOP? And don’t pretend most people were wearing masks, many weren’t including some of the beloved streamers. Before CHOP, night after night hundreds of people packed together at the Western Barricade chanting and screaming. You don’t recall that either, I see.

    • While helping the homeless is admirable, breaking into a building is criminal, ignoring the repeated request from the parks department to leave is negligent, saying they would leave and not leaving is deceitful; these are the reasons why the SPD showed up.

    • First of all, I agree that the City/SPD should have intervened in that religious gathering, because it was clearly violating the public health guidelines.

      However, it is one thing to hang out peacefully with friends in a “semi-closed” park, and quite another thing to illegally occupy a public space (shelter house and surrounding area) and engage in graffiti vandalism.

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