More than a dozen businesses and property owners in Seattle are suing the city for damages caused by the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).
Plaintiffs say the city encouraged the protest by providing barriers, public restrooms, and medical supplies. Indeed, Mayor Jenny Durkan waited weeks before announcing plans to dismantle the autonomous zone.
“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 City’s decision has subjected damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties,” reads the 56-page class action lawsuit.
Plaintiffs made it clear they do not oppose the anti-police or Black Lives Matter messages.
As noted in my previous article on CHOP (click here to read), protestors have invited the city’s homeless population to live in the neighborhood. There have been reports of crimes including rape, burglary, and arson – with police unable to reach victims due to protestors.
Businesses in the suit say they were threatened with retaliation if they painted over protestors’ graffiti. The owner of Car Tender, an auto shop included in the lawsuit, says a protestor broke into his shop on June 14th, started a fire, and attacked his son with a knife.
The CHOP occupation began June 8th following a violent clash between police and residents protesting over the killing of George Floyd. It is unclear who, if anyone, ordered police to abandon the area.
On Monday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced plans to dismantle the occupation following a series of shootings that left a 19-year-old resident dead.
Some residents are already planning to move out of state due to the city’s failure to handle the protest.
“Since we have no leadership and we have a city council that’s so socialist, there really is very, very little support for businesses,” says Joey Rodolfo, owner of Buki clothing. “As far as the city reaching out to small businesses like ourselves, or any business, there has been zero.”
At least one member of the City Council is in cahoots with the protestors. Kshama Sawant, who participated in Occupy Wall Street, is planning to introduce several measures to satisfy the protestors’ demands, including a plan to transform the East Precinct into a community center.
Editor’s note: What happened in “CHOP” when the police left? Crime went through the roof. Of course it did, what else could happen? If I were a resident of that area and my government that I pay taxes to abandoned me I would sue too.
It is shocking to me to see a city abandon part of its area and turn it over to mob rule. This should never happen.