Seattle finally reclaims Cal Anderson Park, site of deadly CHAZ occupation, removing drug addicts, homeless

"The Black community is unaware of the existence of the garden, and the garden does not represent, in any meaningful sense, the vast number of Black lives extinguished by police violence."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
On Wednesday, the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, working with police, finally cleared away the last remnants of the deadly 2020 Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), a makeshift “garden” in Cal Anderson Park that activists claim was a memorial to black lives lost to “police violence.”

However, activists failed to memorialize the two black teens who were killed in the zone during the occupation.

According to city officials, the “makeshift” garden was being removed “due to public health and public safety issues and the need for maintenance, including reseeding the area and turf restoration.”

In the early days of the occupation, a video circulated of Travis Berge, a prolific offender with dozens of felony convictions who had been featured in the documentary Seattle is Dying, creating the garden while challenging activists to mortal combat.

In the weeks that followed the dismantling of the CHAZ, Berge allegedly killed his girlfriend in the park by driving nails into her head and then Berge drowned in a tub of chlorine in one of the processing stations.

For years, the park has been overrun by homeless encampments, activists, and characters like Berge. On Wednesday, the City’s Unified Care Team also removed tent encampments that were located near the garden area and immediately outside the park along E Olive St. “as part of ongoing efforts to keep public spaces clean, open, and accessible to all.”

According to a statement from the Department of Parks and Recreation, “This is the 76th time the Unified Care Team has resolved encampments at Cal Anderson in 2023, which is one of the most frequently addressed areas in the city for repopulated encampments.”  

The department added that in recent months, “the temporary garden has created unsafe conditions for all park users, including the vandalism of Cal Anderson public bathrooms, public drug use, unauthorized camping, and a significant rodent problem, along with other issues.” 

Parks and Rec noted that it had “…received significant feedback demonstrating a desire to relocate the garden to another location within the park. Further, the current location of the temporary garden is not appropriate for this section of the park because the ‘Sun Bowl’ is one of few spaces that is appropriate to host gatherings and events (because of its intentional design as a natural amphitheater proximate to electrical and water hook-ups).”  

The department planned to clear the garden in October, but activists have regularly staged protests to block city efforts. According to city officials, “SPR has been in frequent communication with community activists since 2020 offering alternative locations for a garden, both within Cal Anderson Park, as well as in other Seattle parks. Unfortunately, Seattle Parks’ good faith conversations have not produced an alternative location acceptable to the organizers of the temporary garden.”

After the area was cleared, fencing was set up to keep people out of the area during the restoration.

Sources told The Post Millennial that after the removal, a group of campers attempted to disassemble the fencing but were pepper sprayed by security officers who were guarding the site.

The park has been known as a staging area for protests. Following the dismantling of the CHAZ, Antifa and BLM activists regularly stored weapons in the park to use against police.

President of the Seattle/King County NAACP, Darrell Powell, said in a statement that while activists claimed that the garden was a memorial to the black lives lost to police violence, it was anything but that. "The Black community is unaware of the existence of the garden, and the garden does not represent in any meaningful sense, the vast number of Black lives extinguished by police violence. The Seattle-King County NAACP stands with Mayor Bruce Harrell and his administration in establishing a true representation memorializing the Black Lives lost due to police violence."
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