Residents and businesses near the “autonomous zone” in Seattle sued the city Wednesday, arguing their rights were “overrun by the city of Seattle’s unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood.”
Anarchists set up the area, known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, on June 8 and forbid law enforcement and first responders from entering. Police also completely abandoned their precinct in the location. Some areas were even racially segregated.
According to the lawsuit, city officials helped prop up the lawlessness by providing those within CHOP barriers, public restrooms and medical supplies. Meanwhile, residents and business owners face difficulties entering their properties, receiving deliveries, and carrying out business operations, according to The Seattle Times. For the elderly and disabled, the challenges presented by CHOP are even worse.
While the plaintiffs would like to restore normalcy to the area, they stressed in the suit that the legal action was not meant to undermine the protest’s anti-police brutality and Black Lives Matter messaging.
The group said in the suit that on occasions they have been threatened by protesters for photographing them or cleaning graffiti from their property.
One of the businesses included the suit — auto shop Car Tender — said a protester broke into his shop on June 14, started a fire and attacked his son with a knife.
The father-son duo were able to detain the burglar, but police did not respond and other protesters forced them to release the attacker, the suit says. (NY Post)
DEVELOPING: More than a dozen businesses inside CHOP zone, on Seattle's Capitol Hill, file 56-page class action lawsuit against the City of Seattle. They're seeking unspecified damages, to be determined at trial. pic.twitter.com/RPlsW3DuNv— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) June 25, 2020
“It is time for this City-endorsed occupation to cease,” Calfo Eakes, the law firm representing the group, said in a statement to The Seattle Times. “Our clients need their neighborhoods and lives back, and the City has been indifferent to our clients’ other calls for help. Our clients sincerely believe that peaceful protests and the message of those protests should continue, but in a way that does not attract violence and destroy our clients’ neighborhood or their livelihoods.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday the city would move to shut down CHOP after the "summer of love" turned deadly over the weekend.