Plywood comes down as Seattle Police begins process of removing East Precinct wall and barriers — UPDATE — Mayor’s office: Wall expected down ‘in coming weeks’

(Image: Alex Garland)

The reopening to the public of Capitol Hill’s East Precinct will apparently come piece by piece. This week, plywood is being removed from the Seattle Police Department’s precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine, the first time Seattle daylight has touched the glass since the summer days of CHOP and the Capitol Hill protest zone. The large cement wall and fencing barricading the facility and closing it off from the public remain.

A department spokesperson tells CHS the removal of the plywood “is part of a process underway” to fully reopen the precinct “when safe to do so.” Work is also underway to repair the glass and strengthen the windows.

There is no schedule for removing the wall. Continue reading

Seattle Police collecting community feedback on new use of force proposals

(Image: Tom Walsh with permission to CHS)

After months of protests in Seattle and a stream of examples of excessive force used by police, the Seattle Police Department debuted drafts in December that would alter its policies on use of force and crowd management last month, but advocates say they fall short.

Advocates and community groups have spent weeks organizing response to the proposals but there is still time to add your voice. SPD said its deadline for public feedback is Friday.

The specific existing policies, which undergo annual review, that the new drafts revise were originally developed in collaboration with the U.S. Justice Department and were approved by a federal court, noted SPD spokesperson Valerie Carson.

“Since June, SPD has significantly modified its tactical approach to meeting the evolving nature of this unprecedented series of protest events, responsive to both community concerns and internal discussions around lessons learned,” Carson said in an email, emphasizing changes in SPD policy around crowd management — tactics that faced heavy criticism over the summer for unnecessary escalation with protesters.

These changes include “robust emphasis” on tactics that isolate individuals who have broken the law so they can be arrested and reducing the “SPD visible footprint around these events” with the recognition that a heavy police presence can escalate tension.

Seattle Community Police Commission senior policy analyst Nia Franco said, however, there is little change to the crowd dispersal tools available to SPD, which would still be able to use tear gas and blast balls under the departmental policy. The CPC has consistently called for limitations on the use of crowd control weapons, including last year when, along with the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability, it called on SPD to stop using tear gas on protesters.

“Their proposed changes completely disregard those recommendations that we’ve made,” Franco said in a Wednesday meeting of the commission. Continue reading

Driver in Summer Taylor vehicular homicide case ordered released from jail as case moves slowly toward trial

The man charged with vehicular homicide after he hit and killed activist Summer Taylor on I-5 has been ordered released from jail and placed on home detention despite being held on bail of $1.2 million.

According to court records, Dawit Kelete was ordered released after a bid from his lawyers to allow the defendant to go under house arrest and electronic monitoring as he awaits trial.

Kelete pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving after he crashed into a Black Lives Matter protest on I-5 on July 4th, killing one demonstrator, and badly injuring another. Continue reading

More arrests on Capitol Hill to start 2021 as anti-police protesters continue to target East Precinct

(Image: Renee Raketty)

(Image: Renee Raketty)

Seattle Police and anti-police protesters ended 2020 in familiar fashion on Capitol Hill with clashes and arrests near the 12th Ave youth jail and the East Precinct after reports of property damage and more broken glass at an area business targeted in previous attacks.

Friday morning, owner Faizel Khan was sweeping up glass from busted windows at his Cafe Argento on 12th Ave at E Olive St. Khan’s business was first targeted this summer and he was at the center of a New York Times report on the police defunding movement that took a critical look at the effort through the eyes of local businesses and property owners. The small business is also part of a handful joining a group of developers and property owners suing the city over its response to the protests.

SPD reports four arrests in the New Year’s Eve incidents as demonstrators gathered in the recently reopened Cal Anderson and marched to the King County Youth Service Center at 12th and Alder before returning to Capitol Hill and a tussle with police up and down E Pine. 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