Business owners in Seattle have filed a class-action lawsuit against the city in regards to the “Occupied” protest zone. The area is known as “CHOP” and previously known as “CHAZ” – but it’s causing problems for business owners and some of them have resorted to legal action against the city of Seattle.
The class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court summarized the complaints of dozens of businesses, residents, and property owners. Some have experienced threats after taking photos of protesters in the designated areas and others who were cleaning graffiti off their properties.
On June 14, Car Tender auto shop’s owner had a burglar break into the shop and started a fire using a hand sanitizer. The alleged thief went after his son when they tried to contain him. Now, the owner and his son were able to control the fire and detain the burglar. However, 911 did not respond to their calls. Instead, a large crowd of protesters came to the scene and released the alleged arsonist.
The proprietor of Tattoos and Fortune Magdalena Sky filed a complaint due to her business being threatened. Clients and customers are afraid even to step foot in the area. She is a firm believer in the Black Lives Matter. However, it has been affecting her business to such a point that she has to seek damages.
The plaintiffs ask for damages due to lost business, property damage and deprivation of their property rights, and the restoration of full public access.
They did this, not because they are against the movement. The city is being sued due to its tolerance of the occupied protest zone that deprived these people of their rights to their property. In the lawsuit, it was stated, “Rather, this lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of plaintiffs. Businesses, employees, and residents in and around CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) – 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, un-served by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large.” (KIRO7)
Major Jenny Durkan agreed and supported CHOP. However, due to the shootings, she is now asking for demonstrators to leave voluntarily. Neither she nor Police Chief Carmen Best was able to give a specific timeline of when it will happen.
Attorney Patty Eakes, representing the plaintiffs, addressed Durkan in a letter on Wednesday, wanting the mayor’s office to provide a timeline by Friday. If they don’t, the plaintiffs would ask the court for an immediate order so that full public access can be restored.
In a written statement, the mayor’s office said, “City leadership have been on the ground daily having discussions with demonstrators, residents and businesses and trusted community-based, Black-led organizations to determine a path forward that protects the right to peacefully protest and keeps people safe.”