Multiple businesses are suing the city of Seattle after they say local officials abandoned them to the self-described “autonomous zone,” set up by violent protesters in early June, that has taken over several downtown city blocks – including stores and restaurants unlucky enough to have landed inside their “borders.”
The suing businesses, which include a tattoo parlor, an auto repair shop and a property management firm, say local officials have helped deprived them of their property rights by surrendering the area to the insurgents. Local reports out of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest – originally the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone – show protesters have implemented their own ragtag “security team,” at least some of whom are armed.
“Rather, this 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,” the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs in the case say the city has illegally granted protesters access to private property and has deprived store owners of desperately needed business by allowing protesters to block the area off to the general public. In the suit, they're seeking damages from the city for lost revenue, property damage and deprivation of their property rights.
One video out of CHAZ/CHOP went viral last week showing violent protesters breaking down a fence around the Car Tender auto repair shop, one store that found itself unfortunately situated in the protesters’ “occupied” area. The shop’s co-owner, John McDermott, said he and his son Mason called 911 more than a dozen times to alert them that the crowd was breaking through the barrier and rushing their car lot, but that no one from the police or fire departments ever came.
A huge mob just attacked "Small Tender" business demanding a release of man who went into the business and started a fire, the business is located inside the 6 blocks of #CHAZ a 'no-cop zone'. Reporting on the ground in #Seattle pic.twitter.com/GeTRheQXFo— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) June 15, 2020
McDermott said that in the absence of police help, he had to physically wrestle a man to the ground after finding the attacker trying to set fire to his store’s front counter. The vandal then reportedly tried to attack McDermott with a box cutter.
The store owner said 911 operators “alluded they were sending someone,” but “finally said they weren’t going to send somebody.”
“I am very shaken up. I’m very disappointed in the city’s leadership. I’m very disappointed in the lack of police protection. I’m very disappointed that the fire department didn’t show up,” McDermott told Fox News following the incident.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, on the other hand, has vocally supported the protest, describing it as a "peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world," and even paying a visit to the occupied zone's "community garden."