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Security guards from a private company did not even make it through their first shift in patrolling a city-owned park in Seattle.
Armed security guards hired to protect the grounds at Cal Anderson Park in overnight hours this week left within a few hours of arriving after reportedly being verbally harassed by people living in an encampment area, some of whom allegedly were carrying poles and sticks.
Jaguar Security Services was hired by the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to patrol the park after the Seattle Police Department did a sweep of the site to clear it of demonstrators and homeless campers. The park, blocks near the area of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), has remained closed since June 30 and police on Tuesday moved in to clear it after complaints by residents and over concerns about a field house damaged in the protests.
Shortly after police left, however, the private security guards were confronted by an allegedly aggressive group that verbally harassed them.
“I went there to make sure, as the owner of the company, that nothing serious would go down. I wanted to make sure everything was going to be cool,” Jaguar Security owner Ricky McGhee told Fox News.
“As soon as we entered that park, they started verbally attacking us … calling us all kinds of names like ‘sellouts’ and [telling us] what they would do to us,” he said, adding that someone was also shining a bright light at them, making it hard to see.
Though the security guards were armed, McGhee noted that they were not looking to start any confrontations.
“Had anybody got within our space, then we would have had to start firing,” he said, according to KOMO News, adding that the group of more than 50 people shouted at them and approached them allegedly carrying objects like sticks. “At that point, they would have been able to overtake us.”
He explained that in a call to the police for assistance, the guards were instructed to walk out of the park to the sidewalk and await officers.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the resources available to commit officers to the park on a full-time basis,” a police spokesperson told KOMO. “But we will still respond to 911 calls to the area.”
(Source: KING 5)
The Seattle City Council voted last month to defund the police department and President Trump this week called out Seattle and other “lawless” cities run by Democrats as he threatened to withhold federal funding.
Rachel Schulkin, a Seattle Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, told Fox News that they are continuing to work with the security firm on a “night-by-night” basis as “we reassess daily the security needs for Cal Anderson Park.”
“Jaguar Security opted to leave the park on Tuesday evening as the large crowd of protesters was not responding to requests to disperse, continued to harass the security guards, and out of a desire to not escalate the situation,” she said.
She also indicated that it would cost about $3,400 for one night of security, as the city was to pay $85 per hour per guard scheduled to patrol the park for 10 hours from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to KING 5-TV.
McGhee told Fox News his company is trying to work with the city to come up with a plan for their safe return.
“These people that are doing that stuff, they’re putting themselves in danger,” he said. “We could have engaged right when they put those lights in our eyes and they had those weapons in their hands.”
The guards reportedly did not return to the park on Wednesday though protesters did, and tents apparently were back up as well as police did not enforce the park closure.
The officer also said he was not enforcing the park closure. “Right now the park is open.”
(Some tents are back; protesters talked in a circle; people played on the field.) pic.twitter.com/feC8g302VT
— Heidi Groover (@heidigroover) September 3, 2020
Seattle Police reportedly made seven arrests in the sweep of the park on Tuesday and found “homemade spike strips, weapons and dozens of makeshift shields” inside of the tents.
“Officers obtained a warrant to search the tent and recovered a machete, hatchet, homemade spike strips, an unexploded mortar, and multiple makeshift shields,” a police report said, noting that no arrests had been made.
Hallmarks of #antifa domestic terrorism: Seattle Police recover a machete, a hatchet, an unexploded device, spikes & other weapons at Cal Anderson Park, where CHAZ used to be. Antifa have returned weekly to the area to riot & attack police. #SeattleRiots https://t.co/IPzBOjanpz
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 2, 2020
Residents and business owners are frustrated with the city’s response to protests and the situation at Cal Anderson Park.
“I believe it’s a sign of a community in crisis,” Louise Chernin, CEO of the Capitol Hill Business Alliance, told KOMO. “How do they retain the safety for their business, but also be supportive of what’s going on in their community?”
An apartment complex across the street from the park has reportedly hired private security to protect residents and some Capitol Hill business owners have purchased guns for self-protection.
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