Director faces call for resignation amid demands to make Capitol Hill’s Hugo House ‘a welcoming and supportive place for writers of all races’

Writers, teachers, and members in the community around Capitol Hill’s Hugo House are calling for the resignation of the nonprofit’s leader for failing to adequately respond to calls for change born out of the Black Lives Matter marches and occupied protest this summer on the streets outside the 11th Ave literary center across from Cal Anderson Park.

UPDATE: Representatives for the group calling for the resignation tell CHS their “advocacy to reform Hugo House has been ongoing for several years.”

“This latest push came as a pushback to (Hugo House’s) performative statement on race equity sparked by the events in summer of 2020,” Shankar Narayan, an advocate involved in the effort, writes. “So it was a response to HH’s false effort to capitalize on BLM, not BLM itself” that inspired the effort.

In an open letter from July, a group of writers and members were joined by a list of around 200 signatories criticizing executive director Tree Swenson and Hugo House over “structural and systemic racism” and the nonprofit’s failure to serve as “a welcoming and supportive place for writers of all races” — Continue reading

With its focus shifted to ‘providing critical services,’ Seattle Parks planning delayed at least another year by pandemic

Seattle Parks and Recreation announced last week it will further delay the planning for the next six-year cycle of spending on the Seattle Park District, putting off changes to how it invests in maintenance, recreation affordability, park development, and supporting community events and programs.

The delay will give the process more time for “additional community outreach and understanding of changing community needs due to the pandemic and recovery efforts,” the department announcement said. Continue reading

After Cal Anderson sweep, other Capitol Hill park encampments grow

A sign of protest before the Cal Anderson sweep

Though outreach efforts moved many campers into shelter in the sweep and clearance of tents and encampments from Cal Anderson just before Christmas, officials acknowledge camps have grown in other parks away from Capitol Hill’s core and tell CHS work to connect people to available facilities continues.

At one Seattle Parks field, Cal Anderson campers moved in immediately following the Friday, December 18th police raid and city worker sweep. Some brought vehicles and the shelter materials that had become parts of the scene for weeks along 11th Ave where Cal Anderson has now been officially reopened to the public after six months of closure.

Others joined the camps at Capitol Hill’s smaller park in the following days. A Seattle Parks representative tells CHS “there is no limit or measurement managed by SPR about how many people can camp.” Continue reading

Cal Anderson Park ‘reopens’

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

New signs have gone up around Cal Anderson Park announcing that the space is again open to the public. Some new signage spells out the “NO CAMPING” restrictions in the park and provides a roster of “local resources” including information on hygiene facilities and available library bathrooms as well as information on how to connect with housing and shelter referrals.

Neighbors around the park say the signs are new as of Wednesday.

The park has been officially closed since the CHOP occupied protest was raided and cleared in July — though it has remained in use by strolling neighbors and dog owners throughout and even as the space remained a center of protest and encampments through 2020.

In its announcement of the reopening, Seattle Parks says “more activities, maintenance, and services” are planned for Cal Anderson in 2021. Continue reading

Cal Anderson sweep: As snow temporarily blankets park’s problems, city tempers expectations about next steps — UPDATE

(Image: Renee Raketty)

A short burst of snowfall greeting the Winter Solstice across Capitol Hill also blanketed Cal Anderson Park’s challenges. Monday night, the park was busy with people enjoying the space.

For now, Seattle Parks says, Cal Anderson remains technically closed and the department has said weeks of work could still be ahead to fully repair and clean up the park. While there are hopes for new efforts to help Cal Anderson and make real changes to help address ongoing needs for shelter, addiction, and mental health resources, the first steps will be modest, according to details of some of the plans provided to CHS by city officials.

Meanwhile, the snow was also a reminder of Seattle’s challenges to help the thousands who live unhoused here. The city’s cold weather emergency shelters only open if there is a “a snow accumulation in excess of 1-inch and/or forecasted temperatures of 25 degrees or below.” Continue reading

Cal Anderson sweep — Day 3: 11th and Denny gunfire, pre-sweep molotov cocktail attack, sad update in park overdose — UPDATE: ‘Antifa soccer’ arrests

Seattle Police investigated reported gunfire on the edge of Cal Anderson overnight as the clean-up effort is slated to continue following Friday’s sweep of protesters and homeless encampments from the park. Meanwhile, a medical emergency in the park earlier this week had a tragic outcome, police say.

According to East Precinct radio updates, police received reports of multiple shots fired and three vehicles speeding away from the area of 11th and Denny early Sunday around 1:30 AM. There were no reported injuries or property damage and it is not clear if police found any evidence of the shooting at the scene identified by at least one witness. Continue reading

Cal Anderson sweep — Day 2: Police in the park, outreach update, graffiti removal, and plans for adding ‘ongoing connection to social services’ — UPDATE

Work crews clear the park Friday (With permission to CHS)

After a Friday raid and sweep to clear remaining campers and activists and the first day of work in what city officials say will be a weeks-long effort for Seattle Parks to clean and reopen the park, Seattle Police maintained a late night presence in Cal Anderson including a cruiser parked on the Bobby Morris turf. Overnight brought no reports of significant efforts from activists to reenter the space. A large group of protesters was reported in the area. Continue reading

SPD sweeps Cal Anderson to clear homeless encampments and protesters from park — UPDATE

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

Chief Diaz and Seattle Police officers sweep the encampment at Cal Anderson Park, on Friday, December 18 2020. (Tom Walsh/CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Seattle Police in riot gear and accompanied by armored vehicles and chainsaws to cut through makeshift barriers entered Cal Anderson Park Friday morning starting just before 8 AM in a sweep anticipated for days but met with little resistance.

Campers scrambled to clear tents and activists gathered to protect the park camps and protest for homelessness services and rights recorded police movements and shouted at officers to stop the sweep. Activists have vowed to continue to hold space in the area — if not in Cal Anderson, in a nearby house destined for demolition around the corner on E Denny.

Bicycle police pursued one group of black bloc marching in protest from the park on 12th Ave and moved into position near the yellow squat house. Continue reading

City of Seattle’s plan to sweep homeless encampments and protesters at Cal Anderson waits on judge’s decision — UPDATE: DENIED

Some of the hastily arranged barricades around encampments at Cal Anderson Park

UPDATE 4:30 PM: A federal court Thursday denied a motion to request a temporary restraining order to halt the planned sweep. More details and the full decision are below.

Original report: A Washington district federal court judge will decide the immediate future of Cal Anderson Park Thursday morning.

Is it soon to be cleared and swept of campers or will “community defense” volunteers mark a victory — however brief — in holding back City Hall?

The decision from Judge Richard Jones expected Thursday morning could open the way for Seattle Parks to move forward with its announced plan to clear Cal Anderson of tents and belongings.

Activists and black bloc protesters did their best to fill the park Wednesday, the city’s deadline for clearing the area after what it says has been an intensive outreach effort to offer homeless campers shelter across the city. The Seattle Police Department circled and patrolled the area of the occupied protest but did not enter the park to engage with protesters Wednesday and overnight into Thursday when Judge Jones was expected to announce his decision on a requested temporary restraining order to halt any sweep.

The federal civil rights lawsuit brought on behalf of “an unhoused resident of Seattle” put a daylong pause to any clearance plans Wednesday but lawyers for the Seattle City Attorney said further action to clear the park would be “imminent” if the request for the restraining order were denied.

The lawsuit been filed in U.S. District Court seek a stop to the sweep on behalf of Ada Yeager whose lawyer say has been living in Cal Anderson since early June and has been subjected to “repeated harassment from the City of Seattle by way of ‘sweeps.’” Continue reading

‘Community defense’ and activists — but not police — fill Cal Anderson as sweep deadline arrives — UPDATE: Restraining order ruling expected Thursday

Police circled Cal Anderson Wednesday morning but did not — immediately — move in (Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Activists and community defense volunteers filled Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Wednesday morning as an announced city and police sweep of the park appeared to be paused — if only temporarily.

Police did not immediately enter the park and made a few shows of cruisers and lights while a mix of law enforcement and media helicopters buzzed the area around the 7:30 AM deadline for the announced clearance of “personal property” from the homeless encampments and mutual aid activities inside the 7.4 acre park in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

CHS reported here on the city’s order posted Monday morning to clear the park after months of closure, protests, and camping in the wake of the CHOP occupied protest and Black Lives Matter rallies and marches. The city says outreach workers have been in contact with campers including 40 in the past week with 10 being referred to shelter facilities. Continue reading