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Another sweep of Cal Anderson as Seattle Police and city crews clear camp and occupied Shelterhouse — UPDATE

Police and a city crew swept a growing camp inside Cal Anderson Park again Tuesday morning. Police moved into the area of the park Shelterhouse near 11th Ave and E Olive St. just before 10 AM.

Seattle Police referred CHS to Seattle Parks for more information on the clearance.

The occupation in Cal Anderson had again grown to multiple tents with activists, protesters, and campers filling the area near the Shelterhouse and CHOP gardens. Organizers say they hope to use the Seattle Parks facility to provide resources and services to the area’s homeless community.

CHS reported on the Shelterhouse occupation and an SPD sweep of the facility earlier this month here.

Seattle Parks says the city’s outreach workers have been busy contacting campers to try to reduce the number of tents gathering around the Shelterhouse . “Preliminary data show that System Navigators have made at least 54 engagements and 13 referrals to shelter at Cal Anderson Park throughout the closure period,” the statement reads.

The sweep and clearance comes two weeks after another SPD and city action to clear the park that only managed to empty the area for a few hours. This clearance might come with a new effort to push out the activists who continue to take over the facility. Reports from the scene show city crews with equipment to install a fence inside the area of the park on the northeastern edge of Cal Anderson near 11th Ave and E Olive St.

SPD has confirmed arrests but said it can not yet provide further information.

The city has sought to rein in sweeps and clearance of camps during the COVID-19 outbreak though Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office has opposed any efforts to restrict the city’s Navigation Team. Large camps can be found in many areas of the city including the greenbelts on state property along the major freeways and nes spaces like the areas around Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center. Other city parks have seen increased campers including Denny Park surrounding the Parks and Rec offices.

The actions come after a relatively calm weekend mostly free of clashes between protesters and police as demonstrators marked a decade since the police killing of John T. Williams.
Meanwhile, the East Precinct has installed a cement block wall topped by a chain-link fence at 12th and Pine. The new fortification has yet to be tested.

UPDATE: SPD reports seven arrests — “We’ve received several media requests today regarding arrests in and around Cal Anderson. As of 4:54pm, our office is aware of seven arrests for assault (3), trespass (3), and one arrest for a felony warrant.”

UPDATE x2: SPD has posted a brief on the “park cleanup” at Cal Anderson in which the department reports recovering “a machete, hatchet, homemade spike strips, an unexploded mortar, and multiple makeshift shields” after getting a search warrant for a tent at the scene:

Officers Recover Weapons, Shields, and Spike Strips During Park Cleanup
Written by Public Affairs on September 1, 2020 8:24 pm
Officers providing security during a Seattle Parks Department cleanup Tuesday morning at Cal Anderson Park recovered homemade spike strips, weapons and dozens of makeshift shields inside of tents in the area.

The Seattle Parks Department began clearing Cal Anderson Park shortly after 10 AM Tuesday to repair damages done to a field house, as well as clean up trash that had been piling up since the park’s closure on June 30th.

Workers with the parks department were cleaning out a tent in the area when they found what they believed were weapons. Officers obtained a warrant to search the tent and recovered a machete, hatchet, homemade spike strips, an unexploded mortar, and multiple makeshift shields.

Officers removed the items from the tent and placed them into evidence. No arrests have been made in this investigation at this time, but the investigation is ongoing.

The full statement on the Cal Anderson sweep from Seattle Parks is below.

Cal Anderson Park has remained closed to the public since June 30 as Seattle Parks and Recreation staff address damage and repairs needed from the ongoing protests. However, the park and park facilities have been repeatedly vandalized throughout the closure.

On August 14, after repeated requests by Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Police asking the individuals who were unlawfully accessing the park to leave, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) removed individuals who had broken into a city facility (the shelterhouse) within the park. Parks staff were on site to remove belongings and store any materials collected. In the days following, individuals returned to the closed park and have again broken into the locked city facility.

In the early morning hours of August 17, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) was notified of an alarm sounding at the Lincoln Gatehouse, a separate facility associated with the Lincoln Reservoir, within the Park. The reservoir holds 12.7 million gallons of treated water and is part of SPU’s drinking water delivery system. When security arrived, they discovered damage to the Gatehouse door and 40-50 tents set up. SPU staff repaired and relocked the door and abated graffiti.

The Seattle Fire Department has received nearly 22 calls to 911 regarding bonfires, rubbish/garbage fires, and requesting medical aid within the park, in August alone. Residents living nearby have reported breathing issues as a consequence of smoke from the illegal fires and the types of items burned. Due to firefighter safety and access issues, firefighters have been unable to safely respond to extinguish the illegal burns.

In recent weeks, the City has been working to engage a limited yet vulnerable number of unsheltered individuals living on site. The Human Services Department’s (HSD) System Navigators and contracted outreach providers have been conducting outreach which is ongoing. Preliminary data show that System Navigators have made at least 54 engagements and 13 referrals to shelter at Cal Anderson Park throughout the closure period.

On the evening of Monday, August 24, SPD’s East Precinctsustained damages following a gathering that became violent. Individuals associated with the group were armed with shields, sledgehammers, improvised explosives, knives, and other items. Organizers of some groups have recently been using Cal Anderson Park to distribute supplies like shields. Following the damage to the precinct, many participants were seen taking refuge within the park.

After the repeated refusal of individuals to leave the park, today, the Seattle Police, at the request of the Seattle Parks and Recreation assisted in clearing those trespassing in the City facility. Parks staff were onsite to address protest supply tents and personal belongings by providing storage, make repairs to the parks facility, and other improvements to further deter break-ins and vandalism.  After the park was cleared, HSD System Navigators were in the area to engage individuals experiencing homelessness with offers of shelter and services. Staff will work over the next week to mitigate damages to the park.

Over the coming days, Parks staff will be onsite daily to remind individuals that the park is closed.

Since August, Parks has beenengaging the broader Capitol Hill community centering outreach with Black, Indigenous and people of color and the LBGTQIA community to identify short term action items and long-term strategies to build on and sustain the health of the people, the environment, and the strong community that supports the park.

The City continues to provide ongoing support to those living unhoused through free shower programs at mobile shower trailers and Seattle community centers,meal programs, and free testing at locations across the City.

UPDATE 9/2/2020 8:40 AM: A group threw trash and a Molotov cocktail over the fence at the East Precinct Tuesday night in a demonstration that was over nearly before it started. Video streams from the scene and neighbors reported the small group gathered outside the precinct’s wall and quickly scattered after the flammable bomb was thrown into the police compound around 9:30 PM. There were no reported arrests and damage was minimal despite the burst of flames.

Seattle Police also engaged in an odd show of power, circling Cal Anderson in a parade-like procession at one point in the night, showing their flashing lights and briefly blaring sirens.


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25 thoughts on “Another sweep of Cal Anderson as Seattle Police and city crews clear camp and occupied Shelterhouse — UPDATE

    • Agree! But no doubt the far-left radicals will be back, doing their thing under the cover of “helping the homeless,” because their self-righteousness and lack of respect for the law know no bounds.

      • They’ve been using unhoused people as a human shield since the early days of the CHAZ. It’s gross.

        If this was just a food handout station, why did the cops recover shields and weapons?

        Regardless, we fund homeless services as a city, we don’t need the Youth Liberation Front or Black Bloc or whoever occupying public spaces to do so.

  1. “Property owners” AKA neighborhood residents. Often long-term neighborhood residents.

    But okay, we shouldn’t be concerned! Everything’s fine! We’re really getting somewhere now!!

    Supportive of PSH, right-to-shelter, and all sorts of possible strategies to address homelessness. Not supportive of this.

  2. “They’re sweeping the soup kitchen again”

    Ah, see that’s where he’s wrong – they’re sweeping out the trespassers and illegal facilities.

    In any event – good. It’s a public park – there are facilities for what they’re perverting it into – and a park is not it.

  3. I agree we need the park back.

    But we also need to consider that if we can evict legally from the park, a landlord should have the same rights. The new federal requirement is income below $90k to be protected from eviction. That seems very reasonable.

    • This isn’t a realistic comparison. Parks are neither homes nor legal residences. Apartments and other forms of housing are. Parks are also public, not private spaces, so there’s very little to connect a federal housing requirement to a city managed park.

  4. I have lived in this neighborhood for 18 years. Honestly, this situation had to go. It was just out of control, filthy, strewn with litter and people passed out from drugs. All night, there’s people arguing or partying or both. I support BLM but after the CHOP and this whole homeless encampment debacle, it’s losing the focus and message. Is it about racial injustice, or being a soup kitchen? Or fighting tooth and nail to defend some random gardens? Or fighting to assure that no one other than them can use the park? I am white and I have been screamed at. I have been cornered by white young people in dreadlocks shaking me down for money for their soup kitchen in what felt like a mugging.

    I agree we need to help people who are housing challenged, especially during a pandemic. I donate both my time and money to three shelters and to two long-standing food-based missions. Why don’t these youths go and donate their time to an existing organizations if they’re so passionate about the issue? I can guarantee you that they would be thrilled to have the help.

    People who live in the area also deserve to be able to use outdoor spaces. People are cooped up with their kids at home rather than at school, yet no one feels safe taking their kids there.

    I’m sorry, but maybe they can get one of the shuttered store fronts to use as a base.

    • Well said. It’s been months since Central Lutheran had to board everything up and relocate Community Lunch because of the chaos and stress created first by the cops assaulting protesters, then CHOP, and now this unsustainable and unsafe occupation. They had been handing out over 800 hot to-go meals a week since the pandemic started. And that was without provoking continued aggression and defensive paranoia from the cops, which only gets amplified and redirected back at the community.

  5. The city should be swifter to immediately dismantle every tent in town. On the Hill this includes Miller playfield and the small park at 15th and John that is of late overrun. Enough tolerance and enabling. Provide a shelter referral and give zero option of public camping. Prosecute shoplifters, graffiti and theft. Those who feel otherwise – open up your own homes and wallets. We are reaping the rewards of our denial.

    • I agree, but unfortunately your suggestions are unlikely to happen in liberal Seattle. And the pandemic is making it even less likely that there will be any clearing of all the tents which inundate our streets and public spaces.

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