After Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) threatened to destroy the Black Lives Memorial Garden in October, the department made good on their promise, wiping out one of the last physical relics of the historic 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and CHOP/CHAZ early Wednesday morning.

SPR wrote in an email that Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City will partner with the Black Farmers Collective and other Black community leaders to plan a new commemorative garden in Cal Anderson. Black Star Farmers, the group that stewards the now demolished garden, said the City’s actions “don’t encourage any sort of collaboration.” But, Black Star Farmers’ Marcus Henderson said, “We must continue to organize communities to reconnect to the land and build solidarity.” Black Star Farmers plan to “reactivate” a community garden in NewHolly next year.

Remember her beautiful like this. HK

The garden survived three-and-a-half years of the City wanting to move it or mow it over. To be so real, there’s no reason to hate on the Black Lives Memorial Garden—since the summer of 2020, highly trained, sustainable agriculture experts at Black Star Farmers (and anyone who wanted to help) grew native plants that produced free food and herbal medicine for the community. But given the public comments SPR collected about the garden, it seems that the people who didn’t like the garden were whites who imagined a BIPOC-led garden must be racist. Like, dude, so many white people defended that garden, so if you, as a white person, didn’t feel welcome, maybe it's because you have bad vibes. Just a thought. 

In the latest attempt to push the garden out, SPR offered the Black Star Farmers a new location behind the Rainier Community Center earlier this year, though “offer” is kinda a weird word choice on my part considering Black Star Farmers did not want to move an inch, let alone five miles from their original location. To move because the City told them to would go against the spirit of the garden, which continues the legacy of the occupied protest it sprung from

Black Star Farmers declined the new location, because duh, and the City decided it would not take no for an answer. Also because duh. 

So on October 4, SPR emailed Black Star Farmers to give them a heads up that they would rip their roots out of the ground starting October 13 so the department could restore the turf and return the space to its intended use as a natural amphitheater. 

In more recent messaging, SPR started to lean on arguments against public drug use and camping, implying that ridding the park of the community-led garden, and replacing it with one that Harrell can take credit for, would somehow cure addiction and make people un-homeless. Hmm. 

As Black Star Farmers wrote in a press statement, “The conditions of the garden expose the reality of the people who actively care for and use the space. The state has claimed that they were removing the garden because of public health and safety, but the garden did not create the conditions for the unhoused crisis and drug epidemic. Removing the garden is a theatrical and reactionary response to systemic issues designed to placate the landlords, bosses, and politicians intent on extracting labor from poor and working-class people.”

After SPR’s announcement, Black Star Farmers sent an email blast to their supporters, hoping to build a campaign to save the garden. The group made headlines, earned sympathy from people with half a heart online, and mobilized dozens of people to physically defend the garden when the City showed up several mornings in the past two months. 

Some organizers speculated that their large presence scared off SPR, particularly on October 24 when SPR came to Cal Anderson with a CAT vehicle.

Backhoe? More like, "get back, ho!" Jk Idk if this is a backhoe, I just hate it. HK

A few garden supporters even joked that SPR’s best bet would be to swoop in on a day when everyone went to a protest for Palestine. Now, some speculate that SPR took advantage of the infamously disorienting period between Christmas and New Year’s to destroy the garden in front of a smaller audience. SPR did not respond to my question about timing. 

Supporters sit ready to defend their garden one October morning, even if it means arrest.

Even though they could not stop SPR Wednesday morning, Black Star Farmers and the garden supporters aren’t admitting defeat. In a press release, Black Star Farmers said, “This pattern of violence only continues to show that we as people need to stand up together to resist the oppression we all face. We ask that all of you reading this pay critical attention to the policies and practices of the City and join us in organizing for resolutions that truly address the needs of our communities.”