Businesses, residents in protest zone sue Seattle
A group of businesses and residents in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle filed a federal lawsuit against the city for “extensive harm” they have faced as the location of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP).
Protesters have occupied the neighborhood for several weeks after city police left their east precinct following clashes with demonstrators sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
The class-action lawsuit, which includes apartment buildings in the area, claims that the litigants support the Black Lives Matter movement but accuses the city of helping CHOP protesters. They claim the autonomous zone has made it difficult for them to receive deliveries, city amenities and conduct business.
“This lawsuit does not seek to undermine CHOP participants’ message or present a counter-message,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather, this lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of Plaintiffs … 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.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said Monday the city’s police department would return to the abandoned East Precinct after a weekend marked by three shootings in the otherwise peaceful zone.
She said that protests would still be allowed, but authorities would try to scale back evening activities by asking protesters to voluntarily leave rather than use force.
“It’s time for people to go home, it is time for us to restore … Capitol Hill so it can be a vibrant part of the community,” Durkan said, according to The Seattle Times. “The impacts on the businesses and residents and the community are now too much.”