Three arrested after dozens gather to protest closing of downtown Olympia park

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Three people were arrested -- two of them on felony charges -- after protesters gathered in downtown Olympia Saturday afternoon to protest the closure of Artesian Commons Park.

The city closed the park in late August in response to what city officials said were threats to park staff. But homeless advocates and other activists have been vocal in calling for the park to reopen.

Their calls to reopen the park culminated Saturday afternoon, when, according to The Olympian, 50-60 people came together downtown and took down the fence that was blocking Artesian Commons.

They chanted "open the well" as they clashed with police.

"For many of our most vulnerable community members, particularly street-dependent youth, the commons have represented a singular safe place, a singular sanctuary - in a city with only a few places where they can legally exist," organizers of the protest said on a flyer promoting the event.

Police reportedly used smoke grenades to try to disperse the crowd, The Olympian reported.

Olympia PD reported on its Twitter page that the demonstration blocked traffic in the downtown area and led to three arrests -- two for felony assault of police officers and one for trespassing.