SEATTLE - Seattle Police arrested 24 people throughout the sweep of a homeless camp protected by protesters and supporters at Cal Anderson Park early Friday morning. Outreach teams placed around 20 people into shelters.
City officials claim park employees faced threats and makeshift barricades blocked access for the public and first responders, and a criminal element had been growing inside the park.
It took less than an hour for SPD to secure the park, but clearing debris and hazards may take several days, said the city.
"Up until the barricades you could still use the park," said neighbor Francisco Riordan who moved to Seattle in early 2019. After waves of violence and sustained protests, he says remaining in the city was no longer an interest of consideration. "It was undecided back then, now it’s decided."
The city says crews spent days offering services and shelter options for those still inside the park.
After a judge denied legal challenges filed earlier this week aimed to delay Friday’s temporary sweep, crews and police moved to clear Cal Anderson of people and property.
"I didn’t carry a gun until the riots," Riordan said.
Protesters occupied the park since Chop had dissolved last summer.
Some business owners told Q13 News off-camera the park started to attract people intent on causing mayhem.
"It was serving as a base camp for other illegal activity," said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. "People’s lives were at risk."
Neighbor Hannah Jenkins spent her morning protesting the sweep, insisting the city’s action harms people who need help.
"I’m definitely staying," she said.
A homelessness crisis has languished in Seattle for years. Advocates for people living without housing turns their lives upside down.
That’s why Jenkins said protesters would most likely return to Cal Anderson.
"I think we’re on the right side of history and the right side of everything," she said.