A group of businesses inside Seattle’s “autonomous zone” along with residents and property owners have filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Seattlesaying officials have been complicit in depriving them of their rights to their property by allowing the occupation to continue.
“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.”
Attorney Angelo Calfo is representing the group, he says “our clients want public order. They want public safety. They want access to their streets and to the properties.”
The suit points out that:
“the City’s conduct has enabled the widespread destruction and vandalism of private property. Graffiti is pervasive throughout CHOP—it is not only on barriers, streets, sidewalks, but also on nearly every private building within CHOP. Graffiti that is painted over almost immediately returns, and property owners have been told by CHOP participants that if they dare to paint over graffiti, their buildings will be more severely vandalized or even burned to the ground.”
In the class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, about a dozen businesses, residents and property owners said they had sometimes been threatened for photographing protesters in public areas or for cleaning graffiti off their storefronts. The owner of the auto shop Car Tender said a burglar broke in the night of June 14, started a fire using hand sanitizer as an accelerant, and then attacked his son with a knife when confronted.
The owner and his son managed to put out the fire and detain the burglar, the complaint said, but police never responded to their 911 calls. A large crowd of “CHOP participants” then came to the scene and forced the owner to release the arsonist, it said.
Other businesses, including the family-run label manufacturing company Richmark Label, said they had been unable to send or receive packages because delivery companies won’t go near the protest zone or because access to their loading dock had been blocked by barricades.
Magdalena Sky, the proprietor of Tattoos and Fortune, said in the complaint she is a supporter of Black Lives Matter but that her business was down severely due to the protest. A physical therapist and wine shop also said clients or customers had been afraid to enter the area.
The suit seeks unspecified damages that will be determined at trial.