Seattle police arrest 24 as crews clear homeless camp at Cal Anderson Park

The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department gave the people living in Cal Anderson Park notice on Monday to remove their belongings from the park by 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. However, when city crews showed up to clean up the camp Wednesday morning, they were met by protesters who barricaded parts of the park and intentionally set fire to a tent, Seattle Parks said.

The park closed in late June after it became the center of protests in the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest[2]” zone known as CHOP. Since then, people have continued to occupy it, setting up illegal shelters.

According to Seattle Parks, recent maintenance efforts “have been met with threats of physical violence.” This has required Seattle Parks to request police assistance.

According to statement from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office Thursday evening, the city has “created a plan to remove the extensive barricades and prepare for a multi-day intensive maintenance, cleaning of garbage, debris, and needles, and repair to City facilities.” 

The mayor’s office said city contracted outreach workers are continuing to offer shelter services to those living in the park. As of Thursday, the city identified 50 shelter spaces, both for youths and adults. Since last Wednesday, outreach crews have reported 20 individuals have been referred to shelters, hotels and tiny homes, eight people have been relocated, and one person was returned to Olympia, according to the city’s statement. 

“Mayor Durkan believes our City can have mutually shared values: individuals experiencing homelessness should be in safer shelters and spaces, and our parks should not be places with illegal fires, barricades, and individuals who are threatening city workers,” said the city’s statement. 

A group of homeless activists “occupied” a house at 1106 E Denny Way, near the NE corner of the park, and said they would not leave until the city met a list of demands, including stopping homeless camp sweeps and providing permanent housing to anyone who needs it.

“If the city doesn’t choose to give people housing first and housing now before providing other services, this type of occupation, this type of demonstration, is going to continue to happen,” said Ali, one of the organizers, who would not provide her last name.

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