SEATTLE - While there are no signs protests inside CHOP are winding down, and city leaders continue to allow streets in Capitol Hill to remain occupied, business owners and residents caught in the middle are now demanding they get a fair shake.
More than a dozen have signed on to a class-action lawsuit against the city claiming the continued occupations violate their neighborhood.
The suit alleges businesses can’t operate normally and people living in the zone are being forced to live with unchecked, sometimes violent crime and that city leaders endorse the occupation.
“We support BLM, but this feels like a tent city,” said Ethan Harrington.
Harrington says he shot video showing a neighbor lose his cool while tossing tables inside CHOP. He is not part of the lawsuit but he believes what started as protests he firmly believes in, he believes the living situation inside the occupation has gone too far.
“Yesterday I saw fights with brass knuckles, it’s pretty uncomfortable,” he said.
More than a dozen neighbors and business owners filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for allowing the blockades and lawlessness to continue.
The suit alleges the city is endorsing, even participating in the occupation of CHOP, and demands city leaders return safety to their streets.
“We need to get our streets and police back,” said John McDermott who works at Car Tender.
The name of that business might sound familiar because it was only June 16th when other employees stopped a burglary in progress but Seattle Police refused to respond.
At the time, SPD said officers observed the scene from a distance and determined the incident was not a threat to life safety. The owners of Car Tender has joined the lawsuit.
“Imagine if you lived somewhere and you had no police protection,” said McDermott.
The Seattle City Attorney’s office confirmed it received the lawsuit. Mayor Jenny Durkan would not comment on the merits of the suit.
“It’s intimidation,” said Bill Donner. “They’re polite but it’s still intimidation.”
Donner’s label company sits across the street from the police precinct virtually abandoned by SPD.
Donner joined the lawsuit, and while he says he supports Black Lives Matter and their demand for equality, he worries the business that’s been in his family for 50 years – and the livelihood for his 70 employees -- are at risk unless the city puts an end to the occupation.
“It’s hard to get too upset,” he said. “That’s why I fault the politicians.”
Durkan’s office city officials have been talking daily with residents, business owners and protestors to find a path forward that ensures peaceful protests continue – and will encourage those protesting to leave the area at night.
Her office's statement is below:
City leadership have been on the ground daily having discussions with demonstrators, residents and businesses and trusted community-based, Black-led organizations to determine a path forward that protects the right to peacefully protest and keeps people safe. Many individuals have departed to join in community led events across the City to continue to demand justice. Recognizing that solutions do not always require police, on the recommendation of community organizations, and in collaboration with Public Health – Seattle & King County and community health partners, the City has stood-up a resource hub at Seattle Central College to provide services for individuals who may be living onsite or who visit the site daily, including, mental and behavioral health, access to shelter/housing, testing and other essential needs.
Over the coming days, City and community organizations will continue to work with individuals to encourage them to peacefully depart in the evening for their safety and the safety of the surrounding community, while also encouraging individuals to peacefully demonstrate across the City throughout the daytime hours.