Seattle’s “Black Lives Matter Garden” has been shut down by authorities over “safety concerns” after the area became a hub for violent crime, open drug use, and homelessness.
The lawless garden in Cal Anderson Park was established by Black Lives Matter (BLM) during the Marxist organization’s violent rioting and occupation of the Democrat-led Washington city in 2020.
Members of Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with city police, removed the garden on Wednesday.
Despite being pitched as a “community garden,” the site had become a homeless encampment that was facilitating rampant crime.
In a statement, city officials said that the “makeshift,” temporary garden was being removed because of “public health and safety concerns.”
According to the statement, the area will now undergo maintenance, including reseeding and turf restoration.
The efforts on Wednesday included the removal of tent encampments located near the garden and outside the park along E. Olive Street.
City officials said the camp was being removed 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 pushback from the BLM-linked Black Star Farmers.
The leftist group stewarded the garden.
In fact, the group petitioned over 5,000 signatures from people against the park’s removal, claiming that the garden honors black and Indigenous people allegedly killed by police.
The opposition also claimed the park provides community members a place for “joy and healing.”
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.
Seattle Parks said it has conducted community engagement with park visitors, neighbors, and adjacent businesses near the garden since 2020 and received “significant” feedback showing a desire to relocate the garden elsewhere in the park.
The department also said it has been in communication with community activists since 2020, offering alternative locations for the garden, though none of the locations were acceptable to the organizers of the garden.
The city said it “remains committed to an ongoing dialogue to produce an alternative garden site.”
Several community leaders weighed in on the garden’s removal, including council member-elect Joy Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth said parks should be maintained to be safe, clean, and welcoming.
“Cal Anderson Park is the living room of Capitol Hill and a focal point of our city,” Hollingsworth said.
“It’s important that we prioritize sanitary conditions within shared public spaces so that our neighborhoods can continue to flourish.”
Despite claims that the area was supposed to be a memorial, many of the city’s residents were not aware there was a garden allegedly set up in remembrance of victims of deadly force by police.
Katrina Johnson, a cousin of Charleena Lyles, who was shot and killed by Seattle police officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson, had no idea the BLM garden was meant to “honor victims.”
The two officers claim Lyles cornered them in her kitchen while brandishing a small knife.
“To make a garden without reaching out to the families and even letting them know about it tells me that this is not about our loved ones but about folks hijacking the movement and trying to make a name for themselves off of our pain and that is simply not okay,” Johnson said in a statement provided on the city’s website.
Darrell Powell, president of the Seattle, King County NAACP said the garden was supposed to be a memorial to the black lives lost to police violence.
Instead, he said, it has turned into anything but that.
“The black community is unaware of the existence of the garden, and the garden does not represent any meaningful sense, the vast number of black lives extinguished by police violence,” Powell said.
“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.”