"De facto stamp of approval": CHAZ-trapped businesses file federal class-action lawsuit against Seattle

Remember the nineteen 911 calls from Car Tender that went unanswered after an arson attempt? That business owner and more than a dozen others want to hold Seattle accountable for abandoning them to the anarchists. Late yesterday, they filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court seeking damages and punitive awards, claiming that Seattle not only didn’t fight back, they actively cooperated in their surrender to mob rule and left them to be extorted and terrorized:

A collection of Seattle businesses, property owners and residents sued the city Wednesday over its tolerance of an “occupied” protest zone, saying officials have been complicit in depriving them of their rights to their property.

The plaintiffs — including a tattoo parlor, auto repair shop and property management firm — emphasized in the lawsuit that they were not trying to undermine the anti-police-brutality or Black Lives Matter messaging of the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.”

“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.

Part of the 56-page complaint can be read here:

The lawsuit claims that businesses and residents have been extorted into demonstrating support for the group and threatened if they try to clean up CHAZ/CHOP graffiti. The lawsuit alleges that the city has not only failed to respond to restore order and enforce the law, but that Seattle “has actively endorsed and supported the ongoing occupation of the CHOP area and the destruction of property that accompanies it.”

They single out Mayor Jenny Durkan in particular for her attempts at self-promotion with the CHAZians. Not only did she give them a “de facto stamp of approval,” the plaintiffs note that she then promoted CHAZ as “something akin to a perpetual block party”:

Actually, Durkan called it a “summer of love” festival rather than an anarchic seizure of city property and hostaging of its residents. She clearly had a much different experience in CHAZ than the people the anarchists trapped there.

The lawsuit will no doubt seek large amounts for damages and punitive awards at some point, but the first order of business is to dismantle CHAZ and re-establish order. The plaintiffs’ attorney wants Durkan to commit to a timeline for that purpose rather than just keep offering airy “goals” on television for its end. If Durkan refuses to act, they want a federal court to order the immediate dismantling of CHAZ and a return to law and order.

While it’s easy to cheer this lawsuit and hope Durkan gets humiliated through it, one has to wonder whether this is really an issue for the courts. As bad as this is, it’s the result of Seattle’s voters electing pusillanimous leadership at best, and proto-anarchist officeholders at worst. Seattle was “dying” long before CHAZ started seizing city and private party to declare its autonomy.  This is a political issue created by Seattle’s voters, and its ultimate solution is political as well. Either Seattle stops electing gutless progressive poseurs to office, or businesses should make plans to exit immediately and look for cities where they are more valued than nihilists with spray paint.

Still, I do wish I could qualify for that jury pool …