Chief Diaz and Seattle Police officers sweep the encampment at Cal Anderson Park, on Friday, December 18 2020. (Tom Walsh/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 →
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 →
Police circled Cal Anderson Wednesday morning but did not — immediately — move in (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.
The City of Seattle is citing support from property owners, businesses, and community groups as it prepares to clear homeless encampments and activists from Cal Anderson Park.
“The situation within the park grows worse and more unsafe by the day,” one key letter — sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan December 14th and provided to CHS this week — reads. “The park has now morphed into a safety concern for both the individuals within the park and the neighboring community. Violence, drugs, vandalism, and other harmful activities in Cal Anderson are adversely affecting our community members to the point where any park activation efforts cannot make any lasting impact.”
The December 14th letter is signed by Hunters Capital’sMichael Malone who owns properties across Capitol Hill including the Broadway Building across from Cal Anderson, Shelia Edwards-Lange, president of Seattle Central College, Chris Persons, CEO of affordable developer Community Roots Housing, and a dozen more signatories including property owners, small business owners, and the developer of the major mixed-use project rising above nearby Capitol Hill Station. Continue reading →
A small battalion of Seattle Police Department officers accompanied City of Seattle personnel early Monday to post notices on trees, fences, and tents in Cal Anderson Park that the area will be swept of encampments Wednesday morning.
“Materials in this area are an obstruction of the intended use of this property, are in a hazardous location or present a hazard,” the notice reads. “This is not an authorized area for storage or shelter.”
“Any materials left here will be removed,” the city says “and belongings will be stored for 70 days at no charge.”
Monday’s actions were met by protest, yelling, and threats by some campers and mutual aid supporters but there were no reported arrests. UPDATE: SPD says one person was arrested for investigation of assault. Continue reading →
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is calling on Mayor Jenny Durkan to launch an investigation of Seattle Police and its Office of Police Accountability after a judge’s ruling this week found the city in contempt for violating an order restraining the use of crowd-control weapons and tactics.
At its core, the letter from the Seattle area chapter focuses on the OPA’s 2020 investigations and the lack of accountability in this summer’s decision to evacuate the East Precinct and the questions the episode raises about the chain of command and decision making inside SPD.
“There is a growing body of evidence to show SPD has failed to uphold its responsibilities, obey the law, and protect people over the past seven months,” BLMSKC said in its letter. “At worst, the evidence suggests SPD has, through its officers and in its capacity as an institution, consistently engaged in various unlawful practices. At best, the evidence suggests SPD has failed to uphold governing officer conduct policies.”
UPDATE: In a statement sent to CHS, the mayor’s office defended its police “accountability partners” but said Durkan will meet with the Black Lives Matter group.
Central Lutheran Church sits at the corner of 11th and E Olive and holds its place in the middle of the communities around Cal Anderson Park including hosting religious services and providing space to feed the hungry in partnership with the Capitol Hill Community Lunch nonprofit.
The old church has also found itself in the middle of the protests that have continued in the area around the park and the East Precinct and, like many buildings near Cal Anderson, has suffered property damage during the unrest.
Some blows have hurt more than others. In August and again in September, Central Lutheran’s historic stained-glass windows were damaged. It is now hoping to raise $60,000 to repair the broken glass.
“Please help us restore our windows to their former appearance so that we can continue our service to the Capitol Hill community and greater Seattle for another 117 years,” the church’s Central Council writes.
Mayor Jenny Durkan tells CHS that her office will “in coming weeks” launch two initiatives planned with local businesses and community representatives to “restore” Cal Anderson Park and take down the barricades around the East Precinct.
“It’s urgent,” the mayor said Tuesday. “It is our densest neighborhood with a very high ratio of people who are renters. There’s very little open space.” The mayor said business and property is also at the front of the discussion after months of demonstrations and ongoing police and protester clashes around the precinct, the park, and the Capitol Hill core.
Beyond reopening a park and clearing the sidewalk at 12th and Pine, the initiatives would be most important for their implications for the neighborhood’s homelessness crisis and the ongoing, nightly protest and unrest. Continue reading →
Dozens of “direct action” protesters marched across Capitol Hill Monday night marking six months since the May 30th clash between demonstrators and police that brought fire, tear gas, and gunfire to Seattle’s core and sparked continuing unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Police reported four people were arrested Monday night out of the group of around 100 for “property damage” and “obstructing a law enforcement officer.”
The “black bloc” marchers spray painted buildings, damaged banks, and reportedly used a baton to smash windows at a business. Images posted by SPD showed a damaged and tagged ATM, and shattered glass at the Broadway Starbucks. Later in the night following the arrests, police reported more attempts to break glass using bricks and an illegal fire at 11th and Denny. Continue reading →