Federal judge allows 21 businesses to sue Democrat-run Seattle over devastation caused by ‘autonomous zone’

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SEATTLE, WA- Back at the beginning of summer, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan looked the other way as anarchists took over a section of the city, leading Durkan to say that she envisioned a “summer of love.”

The so-called autonomous zone, initially called CHAZ and then changed to CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) was in place between June 8 to July 1. Now, a federal judge is allowing a lawsuit brought against the city by 21 businesses to move forward, according to Newsweek.

The lawsuit has accused the city of harming businesses in the city by allowing the existence of CHOP. The zone had barricades set up and blocked all car traffic, which limited access to the businesses by customers, while also hurting the businesses revenue, and affecting that of vendors.

The lawsuit continues that that Seattle Police effectively abandoned that area of the city, thereby allowing protesters and others to damage business property, as well as to threaten business owners without risk of punishment. Some of the anarchists were seeking protection money from business owners in exchange for not damaging their businesses.

Finally, the lawsuit claims the city provided the concrete barriers, medical supplies, washing and sanitation facilities, portable toilets, lighting, and other material support to the anarchists, while also allowing the use of Cal Anderson Park to the “nation” of CHOP.

In addition, police were instructed to implement a “no response” policy whereby officers wouldn’t be dispatched into the area unless a 911 caller reported “significant life safety issues.”

Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington wrote in his decision:

“Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the City’s actions—encouraging CHOP participants to wall off the area and agreeing to a ‘no response’ zone within and near CHOP’s borders—foreseeably placed Plaintiffs in a worse position.”

Zilly did dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim that Seattle had violated their constitutional rights to equal protection by disparate treatment from other city residents or CHOP occupiers, however he did allow the plaintiffs’ three other legal claims to proceed.

The additional claims allege that by allowing the autonomous zone to remain in place for a month before police finally shut it down, Seattle had unlawfully taken their private property for public use without compensation, restricted their ability to fully use their property in which to conduct business, and failed to protect the businesses from a danger that was in fact created, facilitated and kept in place by the city itself.

Newsweek reached out to the city of Seattle for comment, but none was given.

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On June 8, the autonomous zone initially called CHAZ (City Hall Autonomous Zone) was created after Seattle police officers had abandoned the department’s East Precinct as a means to de-escalate conflicts which had occurred for over a week between racial justice protesters (rioters) and Seattle police.

After seizing the six-block area of the city, the occupiers demanded the release of all protesters who had been arrested, and to cut the $409 million police budget in half, while donating the other half to services in the city’s black and minority communities.

The anarchists painted a block-long “Black Lives Matter” mural on city streets, and set up their own mini-Woodstock, replete with free musical performances, constructed a community vegetable garden, a “No Cop Co-op” with food, medical supplies, and other resources.

The zone remained in place and all was fun and games until two black teenagers were shot and killed, four others were injured in shootings and numerous other Seattle residents complained about violent assaults, harassment, and threats. After all of that, Seattle police finally dismantled the zone.

For more on the tourist destination of CHAZ/CHOP, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

SEATTLE, WA — Fox News reporter Sean Hannity spoke to a Horace Lorenzo Anderson about his 19-year old son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Jr. who was killed in a shooting that occurred in the Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone (CHOP) on June 20.

During the July 1 interview, Anderson said that he found out about his son’s death from two of his son’s friends, not from authorities.

Anderson stated the Seattle Police have not come to speak with and he hasn’t heard from the mayor’s office either.

He stated that he thinks the only reason the police did come to talk to him was because the incident was on the news. Anderson agreed to be interviewed on Hannity’s show on Wednesday. During the show, he pleaded for answers as to what happened to his son.

During the interview, Anderson said:

“They need to come talk to me and somebody needs to come tell me something, because I still don’t know nothing. Somebody needs to come to my house and knock on my door and tell me something. I don’t know nothing. All I know is my son got killed up there.

“They say, ‘He’s just a 19-year-old.’ No, that’s Horace Lorenzo Anderson [Jr.]. That’s my son, and I loved him.”

Anderson told Hannity that he wasn’t able to see his son’s body for two weeks. He went to the hospital expecting to see his son, but he wasn’t allowed. There were also no detectives to be seen. 

Fox reported that Anderson, Jr. was killed during a shooting on the early morning of June 20 inside the CHOP zone near Cal Anderson Park on 10th Avenue and East Pine Street. Officers responded at approximately 2:30 am to the shots fired in Cal Anderson Park.

Officers arrived on scene and marched through the zone with their firearms at the ready position but were met by a mob of angry protesters yelling vulgarities at the officers as they approached. This mob blocked officers from reaching the crime scene.

Body worn cameras captured the scene as officers approached. Officers attempted to use a bullhorn to advance forward:

They shouted:

“Please move out of the way so we can get to the victim! All we wan to do is get to the victim and provide them aid!”

Many protesters shouted to the police “put your guns down!” Eventually, police were alerted that victims were taken to the hospital.

No suspects have been taken into custody, as they’ve had no cooperation from those who may have been witnesses. They have no suspect leads and no description. 

Seattle Police said:

“Homicide detectives responded and are conducting a thorough investigation, despite the challenges presented by the circumstances.”

The Daily Mail reported that Anderson was devastated when he learned about his 19-year-old son’s death, and, what’s worse, is he still doesn’t know what happened.

Anderson said:

“It’s been almost two weeks, I haven’t heard from nobody – nobody has called. Ain’t nobody called me or try to find me. And his ID is my ID, so his number is my number, so it’s easy for detectives to say ‘hey excuse me’ – knock on my door – ‘excuse me, let’s tell you what happened about your son.’”

The disheartening interview aired the same day as the Seattle Police were able to reclaim their precinct in the CHOP Zone once the mayor issued an early morning executive order to vacate the area.

The CHOP Zone had been occupied by protesters since June 8 and in that time, crime rose more than 500% in a little over three weeks. There were two deadly shootings during that occupation of the area.

Anderson was shaken up by the incident and the fact that he hasn’t learned anything from authorities about his son’s death. He is burying his son on Thursday. 

During the July 1 interview, Anderson said:

“I still don’t know what’s going on. I’m hearing from YouTube. I don’t know nothing. All I know is my son is dead. I’m still trying to figure out answers so I can sleep. I don’t sleep. My kids don’t sleep. I can’t even stay at home. My kids, they feel like they are unsafe at home.”

 

Here’s more on the incident from the CHOP as Law Enforcement Today reported at the time.

 
Early Saturday morning, at least two people were shot and one was killed inside Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area.

Now police say they are investigating despite it being in a “no-cop” zone of the city.

Videos hit the internet showing volunteer medics racing to help the victims.  This, after Seattle Police Department radio dispatchers got multiple reports of three to six gunshots.

It happened around 2:20 a.m., and the people involved were seen fleeing the scene north from 10th Avenue and East Pine street.

This is also in the city’s Capitol Hill autonomous protest zone, also called CHAZ.

On June 8th, Seattle Police abandoned the closest East Precinct building.  The move came after days of confrontations with protesters.

Details are scarce at this point about the shooting.

We do know that officers arrived to the scene on foot and were prepared with riot gear – or “anti-protest gear”, as Newsweek referred to it.

According to East Precinct police radio chatter, a second victim had a gunshot wound to the arm and chest and officers on scene were collecting shell casings and evidence.

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reported Saturday that Seattle Fire had been called to the scene to treat the victim, but that person had already been transported by volunteers to Harborview.

Local videographers from Converge Media first reported that one of the individuals who was shot had been driven by “non-ambulance locals” to the Harborview protest camp.  That camp is staffed by medical volunteers.

According to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, the man was dead when he arrived at the volunteer medical camp – although medical experts haven’t publicly verified this.

In the footage, several people on the street said one of the victims was dead in front of the Rancho Bravo restaurant at 10th and Pine Street.

Earlier this week, a suspected arsonist was detained near the occupied area.

What’s more disturbing was the stash of weapons that were located near the scene of the alleged arson and vandalism – and also that police did not arrest the suspect initially.

According to police, 21-year-old Richard Hanks allegedly broke into Car Tender and attempted to start a fire within the business on June 15th. Keep in mind, this was a mere two blocks from the CHAZ/CHOP occupied area.

John and Mason McDermott happen to be the owners of the business, and personally responded when notified of Hanks allegedly breaking into the business. The father and son business owners also called 911 to inform police of the initial break-in.

Yet, police didn’t respond, according to Mason:

“Multiple times, we called them… They made it seem like they were going to come. We’ve been bombarded by news station [on June 16th], basically saying, ‘Hey, the police department’s saying they showed up last night.’ Absolutely not. They did not.”

The McDermotts were able to stop Hanks from causing further damage, as the duo had allegedly witnessed Hanks attempting to set a desk on fire.

Mason claimed that they called police somewhere between 16 to 18 times while detaining the suspect, but no one responded.

Then, somewhere between 100 and 200 CHAZ/CHOP inhabitants gathered outside of the Car Tender demanding the release of Hanks. According to a police report related to the incident, this gathering of people had threatened to burn down the business if Hanks wasn’t released to them.

Mason described this group of “peaceful” demonstrators:

“They were shouting at us from outside the gate of my dad’s shop, saying that they were going to kill us and to let him go and, you know, obscenities… basically, they said, ‘let him go or we’re gonna kill you guys.

You need to let him go.’ And we were just holding him so the police could get there, you know, so this guy could be accountable for trying to burn our family business to the ground and stealing.”

The group had breached the fencing around the business and began to make their way into the business’ yard. At that point, the McDermotts released Hanks to the mob.

That’s when things got allegedly stranger.

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According to the police report of the incident, the mob had actually detained Hanks and began forcibly searching through his backpack and held him against his will.

Apparently, the crowd had even returned some items that were stolen from the McDermotts – and then the crowd allegedly delivered their own form of justice to Hanks.

The police report said:

“Eventually a member of the crowd assaulted the suspect, repeatedly punching him in the face.”

It’s almost as though CHAZ/CHOP’s version of “policing” engaged in what some would call police brutality.

Can anyone see the irony of enacting violent mob justice against suspected criminals while engaged in a protest against police brutality, as the entire protests that have erupted typically point to that as being the impetus of the demonstrations.

Hanks was reportedly able to escape the beating from the mob.

While Hanks wasn’t immediately taken into custody by police after the alleged break-in and arson attempt at Car Tender, he did get arrested later by a deputy from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s deputy witnessed Hanks engaged in a vehicular burglary later on June 15th in White Center, and placed him into custody.

After the scenario that played out at Car Tender, security firm Iconic Global offered to donate time and personnel to the McDermotts to help guard their business. Some of their personnel dispatched made a unique discovery nearby the scene of the alleged arson attempt.

Iconic Global employees were said to have located an AK-47, five loaded magazines, a magazine for a Glock, and also some “explosive hardware”. All of which were reportedly stashed in some bushes nearby Car Tender.

As for Hanks, he’s currently facing charges of burglary in the second degree, theft of a motor vehicle, and malicious mischief in the first degree and remains in custody at this time.

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