Seattle to pay $3.6 million to residents, businesses for mishandling of summer 2020 CHOP zone

 Seattle recently agreed to pay $3.6 million to settle a lawsuit over its mishandling of the summer 2020 Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, also referred to as CHOP or CHAZ, KING-TV reported.

Last week, Seattle agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen business owners and residents for damages incurred from riots that took place in June 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The case argued that city officials "effectively authorized the actions of the CHOP participants." The plaintiffs accused the city of allowing violence, including fatal shootings, assaults, noise pollution, and property damage.

"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 stated. 

Plaintiff attorney Angelo Calfo said residents and property owners will be "compensated for the city's mishandling of CHOP that resulted in a significant increase in crime and even loss of life."

Calfo noted that the lawsuit also exposed a cover-up by Seattle officials who deliberately destroyed text communications related to the city's handling of the CHOP zone. The settlement includes $600,000 in penalties for the deleted text message evidence.

The Office of Inspector General released a report in October that identified mistakes made by city officials and the Seattle Police Department that led to the destruction caused by the formation of the autonomous zone and subsequent riots.

"The decision of the City and SPD to withdraw from the East Precinct to de-escalate tension between SPD and protestors made space for creation of the CHOP," the report stated. "Once established, neither the City nor SPD leadership were able to communicate effectively with the occupy style protest or to provide consistent essential services to the CHOP or the surrounding neighborhood."

The Office of Inspector General concluded that some of those decisions "eroded public trust" and led to "poor policing outcomes.

Following the settlement announced last week, city attorney Ann Davison said, "I am pleased that we were able to resolve this matter and turn a page from a difficult period in the city's history."

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