Numerous businesses and residents in Seattle, Washington, are suing the city for tolerating the CHOP zone, claiming officials were complicit in depriving them of the right to their own property.
“The plaintiffs, including a tattoo parlor and auto repair shop, emphasized in the lawsuit filed Wednesday that they were not trying to undermine the anti-police-brutality or Black Lives Matter messaging of the ‘Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,'” King 5 reported.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, read:
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 businesses, employees, and residents of that neighborhood to extensive property damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties.
Business owners also claimed protesters threatened them with retaliation if they painted over their graffiti, adding they wanted to hold officials accountable for their role in allowing violence, assaults, noise pollution, and damage.
The lawsuit continued:
The City’s policies have effectively authorized the actions of the CHOP participants. The City has communicated clearly to CHOP participants that they may indefinitely continue occupying the streets in the area, maintaining their barricades, and blocking traffic, all without interference from the City.
Calfo Eakes LLP, the law firm representing the group, said in a statement “The result of the City’s actions has been lawlessness,” according to the Seattle Times.
“There is no public safety presence. Police officers will not enter the area unless it is a life-or-death situation, and even in those situations, the response is delayed and muted, if it comes at all,” the firm continued.
Following shootings that left one person dead over the weekend inside CHOP, also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) indicated Monday the protest area would be shut down.
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents. The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased,” she stated.