Residents and businesses in a Seattle neighborhood filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the city for “extensive harm” suffered from the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP.
The plaintiffs “support protesters’ right to bring issues such as systemic racism and police brutality,” but the occupation has caused financial hardship and disrupted daily life, said Calfo Eakes LLP, the law firm representing the group, in a statement.
Four shootings in the area have erupted since Saturday, leaving one person dead.
“For more than two weeks, and with the full knowledge and participation of the City, our clients’ neighborhood and properties have been blocked, barricaded, occupied, and vandalized,” the attorneys’ statement reads.
Thousands of protesters have flocked to the six-block portion of the Capitol Hill area since June 8 to demand police reform and defunding of the Seattle Police Department. The demonstration is part of a nationwide response to the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd.
“A lot of people have already” left the area that’s also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, a de facto leader of the protest zone said Wednesday, two days after Mayor Jenny Durkan said “it’s time for people to go home.”
The zone is deserted since the recent violence except for a few holdouts, a CNN team reported. Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct there on June 8.
The plaintiffs, which include retail and other businesses, say they have had to deal with constant harassment, loss of income, property damage, and an inability to safely enter or exit their homes and businesses.
“Our clients’ lawsuit seeks to end the City’s unprecedented decision to allow and endorse a private occupation of an entire neighborhood and leave it unchecked by the police,” according to the statement.