Businesses sue Seattle over ‘occupied’ protest zone

In the class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, about a dozen businesses, residents and property owners said they had sometimes been threatened for photographing protesters in public areas or for cleaning graffiti off their storefronts. The owner of the auto shop Car Tender said a burglar broke in the night of June 14, started a fire using hand sanitizer as an accelerant, and then attacked his son with a knife when confronted.

The owner and his son managed to put out the fire and detain the burglar, the complaint said, but police never responded to their 911 calls. A large crowd of “CHOP participants” then came to the scene and forced the owner to release the arsonist, it said.

Other businesses, including the family-run label manufacturing company Richmark Label, said they had been unable to send or receive packages because delivery companies won’t go near the protest zone or because access to their loading dock had been blocked by barricades.

Magdalena Sky, the proprietor of Tattoos and Fortune, said in the complaint she is a supporter of Black Lives Matter but that her business was down severely due to the protest. A physical therapist and wine shop also said clients or customers had been afraid to enter the area.

The complaint said that the city’s decision to turn over the blocks and a nearby park to the demonstrators deprived them of their property rights without due process and amounted to an illegal gift of public property to the protesters.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for lost business, property damage and deprivation of their property rights as well as the restoration of full public access.

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