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Civil Rights

Seattle Attorney Sues City, State Over CHOP Zone Protests and “Take-Overs”

— June 30, 2020

The attorney says that Seattle and Washington state essentially let armed militia and political groups take over the city’s CHOP Zone.

Residents of the CHOP Zone in Seattle have filed a lawsuit against city Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee.

According to K5 News, the lawsuit accuses both Durkan and Inslee of poorly handling protests in and around the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) Zone. And, while attorney and plaintiff Jacob Bozeman says he does not stand against protesters’ cause, he feels local political leaders should have acted more responsibly.

“What would happen if every political group or special interest group wanted to take over a portion of the city?” Bozeman asked. “So nothing was being done, nothing happened and I thought it was a very obvious abdication on the part of the mayor and the city and the state since the state was doing nothing.”

Seattle’s CHOP Zone made national headlines when protesters—some of whom were armed—effectively pushed police out of part of the city’s urban core. The lawsuit alleges that Seattle’s political brass, along with Gov. Inslee, failed to protect residents in nearby areas by allowing “their respective jurisdictions to become lawless autonomous zones, which denies persons living within, and outside of these jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Demonstrators destroying a police car in Seattle. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:marcoxu0109. (CCA-BY-4.0).

Bozeman, interestingly, is not seeking financial damages or any particular dollar amount. In fact, he told K5 that he has never, in 27 years of legal practice, filed a lawsuit like this one.

Nevertheless, he did maintain that, even if Seattle manages to clear the CHOP Zone, he will still pursue the lawsuit.

“No political group should just be allowed to take over a portion of the city, so the lawsuit’s not going to go away Monday if it’s cleared out,” Bozeman said. “And that’s a big ‘if.’”

Bozeman, talking to FOX Business, suggested that political leaders’ inaction is a constitutional issue.

“Allowing a group of people to say who comes, who goes, that’s a violation of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said. “Damage has been done to all the citizens who wanted to exercise their free rights.”

Adding that he fell endangered by the presence of armed protesters—which included organized leftists along with alt-right groups like the Boogaloo Boys—Bozeman said the state had essentially given its claim to authority in and around the CHOP Zone.

“I can’t understand how anybody could say the mayor and the governor of the state should abdicate their enforcement authority […] to just give that up to an armed group of people who aren’t elected,” he said.

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office told KING5 that it must review the complaint before offering further comment.

“We intend to review this complaint and responding accordingly,” they said.


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