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.
— jseattle (@jseattle) August 14, 2020
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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