Security guards chased out of Cal Anderson Park as tents, protesters return to area
A private security firm hired by the City of Seattle to patrol Cal Anderson Park was reportedly chased away by protesters Tuesday night.
According to a report from the Seattle Times, Parks and Recreation hired Jaguar Security on Tuesday, after police went through the park to clear homeless campers and make seven arrests, including three for assault, three for trespassing, and one for an outstanding felony warrant. Upon searching campsites in the park, police found a machete, a hatchet, homemade spike strips, an unexploded mortar, and several makeshift shields.
Tuesday’s sweep, performed by uniformed SPD officers, was done at the behest of Parks and Recreation, citing recent break-ins to Cal Anderson’s shelter house, concerns over contamination of a reservoir contained within the park, several 911 calls regarding bonfires, and complaints from Capitol Hill residents over “reported breathing issues as a consequence of the smoke from the illegal fires and the types of items burned.”
In the wake of that sweep, Jaguar Security was tasked with patrolling the park to “remind people that the park remains closed,” it told the Times in an email.
On Tuesday night, a group of protesters squared off with three Jaguar security guards in the park. Protesters can be seen on video shouting at the guards to leave, following them through the park before eventually chasing them out entirely.
Security guards reportedly did not return to the park Wednesday night, with one police officer in the area telling a Times reporter that the park closure wasn’t being enforced, saying that “right now the park is open.” Tents have since returned to the park while protesters continue to establish a nightly presence in the area.
Cal Anderson Park has been closed to the public since late June, despite protesters using it regularly as a rallying point, and a religious rally held in the park in early August that drew hundreds.
Police last swept the park in mid-August when they were met by a group of protesters. Not long after police left the area, campers and aid tables returned, before getting cleared out earlier this week.