“…this lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of plaintiffs — businesses, employees, and residents in and around CHOP — which have been overrun by the city of Seattle’s unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood, leaving it unchecked by the police, unserved by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large.”
A handful of small business owners have filed suit against the city of Seattle for the allowance of the rioter occupied zone, which they claim has deprived them of their property rights, saying, “the City’s decision has subjected businesses, employees, and residents of that neighborhood to extensive property damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties.”
The complaint refers to CHAZ as CHOP (“Capitol Hill Occupied Protest”).
The plaintiffs allege that city officials actively endorsed, “enable, and participate in the occupation of CHOP.” From the complaint embedded beneath):
On June 8, 2020, the City of Seattle (“the City”) abruptly deserted the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct on the corner of Twelfth Avenue and E. Pine Street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, leaving behind numerous barriers that had previously been used as a line between police and protesters.
4. When the City abandoned the precinct and the nearby barriers, a number of individuals who had been in the area took control of the barriers and used them to block off streets in an area around the East Precinct.
5. In the days and weeks after the City abandoned the East Precinct, CHOP participants have occupied the public streets, sidewalks, and parks in the area at all hours of the day and night. Rather than seeking to restore order and protect the residents and property owners within CHOP, the City instead chose to actively endorse, enable, and participate in the occupation
6. The City has provided Cal Anderson Park, a public park located at the center of CHOP, to CHOP for use as the staging ground supporting CHOP’s occupation of the surrounding area. Supported by the City, countless CHOP participants now reside in the park at all times of day and night, having turned it into a tent city. At any given time, hundreds of CHOP participants are camped out in the park. Violence, vandalism, excessive noise, public drug use, and other crimes are rampant within the park.
7. The City’s conduct has resulted in CHOP being blocked off from public access. Among other conduct detailed below, the City recently provided the participants with concrete barriers to use to block the streets, which CHOP participants have indeed used to barricade the streets and create borders. These borders have, at times, been guarded by armed CHOP participants who oversee who can or cannot enter CHOP. As a result, the streets are barred to most all vehicular traffic, making it virtually impossible for residents and businesses to access their buildings, receive deliveries, and provide goods and services to the few customers willing to enter CHOP.
From the Associated Press:
A collection of Seattle businesses, property owners and residents sued the city Wednesday over its tolerance of an “occupied” protest zone, saying officials have been complicit in depriving them of their rights to their property.
The plaintiffs — including a tattoo parlor, auto repair shop and property management firm — emphasized in the lawsuit that they were not trying to undermine the anti-police-brutality or Black Lives Matter messaging of the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.”
“Rather, this lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of plaintiffs — businesses, employees, and residents in and around CHOP — which have been overrun by the city of Seattle’s unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood, leaving it unchecked by the police, unserved by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large,” the lawsuit said.
The Seattle City Attorney’s Office said it had not yet seen the lawsuit but would review it.
The “occupation” began June 8 when the Seattle Police Department, following days of intense clashes with demonstrators in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, abandoned its East Precinct building in the densely populated Capitol Hill neighborhood. Protesters moved police barricades to block traffic, and scores camped in a nearby park.
The protest has drawn the scorn of President Donald Trump, who asserted it was being run by anarchists.
…Mayor Jenny Durkan has expressed support for the protest, calling it “a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world,” and the city has helped it by providing different barricades to better protect participants from vehicles.
But following three shootings in the area on consecutive nights beginning last weekend, Durkan said this week the city would wind down the protest zone, at first by encouraging demonstrators to leave voluntarily, and that police would return to the precinct. But neither she nor Police Chief Carmen Best gave a specific timeline for when that would happen.
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