The city of Seattle was recently hit with a lawsuit by furious and fed up residents and business owners over the CHOP zone.
Fed up with the ‘occupied protest’ that has made itself at home in the streets of Seattle, several businesses around the downtown area have decided to sue the city over allegations that city officials “were complicit in allowing the protest that has made them feel unsafe in their neighborhood.” Among the businesses suing are an auto repair shop, a property management company, and a tattoo parlor. Additionally, many other residents and workers also “joined the lawsuit over CHOP, the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.” Since the establishment of CHOP, Mayor Jenny Durkan, the city’s police chief, and other city officials have come under criticism by President Trump and others calling for law and order.
CHOP was established in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. Around that time, widespread demonstrations began gripping the country, and some evolved into all-out riots. According to CHOP organizers, they seek to “establish a police-free area in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district.” Since the occupation of part of the downtown area, the CHOP zone has “seen shootings, vandalism, and other crimes.” For example, last week a 17-year-old was shot in the arm and a 19-year-old was fatally shot while another was critically wounded. In those shootings, “hostile crowds slowed police efforts to reach the crime scenes.”
Through all the chaos, one thing is certain: many residents who actually live and work in and around the CHOP zone did not ask for the violence and vandalism. The recent suit states:
“(T)his 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.”
One of the business owners suing the city is Joey Rodolfo of Buki clothing. In an interview with ‘Fox & Friends,’ he said he “plans to move out of state because of what he described as Seattle’s lack of governmental leadership.” He added:
“Since we have no leadership and we have a city council that’s so socialist, there really is very, very little support for businesses. As far as the city reaching out to small businesses like ourselves, or any business, there has been zero.”
Additionally, the suit alleges that “city leaders provided the demonstrators with barriers, public restrooms, and medical supplies – in effect supporting the occupation of the neighborhood and hindering the efforts of local business people, employees and residents to reach their buildings, receive deliveries and provide services.”
Calfo Eakes LLP, the firm representing the plaintiffs, chimed in and said:
“The result of the City’s actions has been lawlessness. 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.”
In response to growing pressure to do something about the occupied area, Durkan announced earlier this week that the city will “begin dismantling the blocks-long occupied area – claiming the crimes and other violence in the zone were distracting from the message that peaceful protesters tried to communicate when they established the occupation.” Durkan said:
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence have led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents. The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”