Posted on December 29, 2023

Seattle Closes Black Lives Matter Garden Amid Rampant Homelessness, Drug Use and Vandalism

Greg Wehner, Fox News, December 27, 2023

Members of Seattle, Washington’s Parks and Recreation department, along with city police, removed a community garden planted in Cal Anderson Park as part of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 on Wednesday.

City officials said in a statement that the “makeshift,” temporary garden was being removed because of public health and safety concerns, as well as for maintenance reasons including reseeding and turf restoration.

The efforts on Wednesday also included the removal of tent encampments located near the garden and outside the park along E. Olive Street, which city officials said was to ensure the public spaces remain clean and open for everyone.

So far this year, the City’s Unified Care Team has cleaned up encampments at Cal Anderson Park 76 times, making the park one of the most frequently addressed areas in the city for repopulated encampments, the city said.

City officials also said the temporary garden has created unsafe conditions for people who enjoy the park. Examples of incidents include vandalism in the park’s public bathrooms, public drug use, unauthorized camping and an increasing rodent population.

The Seattle Times reported that Seattle Parks planned to act in October, though the city received push back from the Black Star Farmers, a group that stewarded the garden.

In fact, the group petitioned over 5,000 signatures from people against the park’s removal, citing the garden honors Black and Indigenous people killed by police. The opposition also claimed the park provides community members a place for joy and healing, as plants like amaranth, tobacco, corn, currants, strawberries and more grow there.

Still, Seattle Parks said the park needed to be removed so the park could be used for other reasons.

Located in the park’s “Sun Bowl” area, the park offers a space for gatherings and events and is near electrical and water hookups.

The publication reported that supporters of the garden watched the park get taken out by construction vehicles guarded by park rangers and police. One bystander said no notice was given of the removal, yet he showed up to save some of the plants.