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Seattle Shells Out Millions To Settle Lawsuit Over Summer 2020 ‘No Cop Zone’

Seattle settled in a lawsuit over the city’s failure to put an end to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone for three weeks during the summer of 2020, agreeing to pay a total of $3.65 million to more than a dozen local businesses and citizens who filed the suit, according to the Seattle Times.

CHOP, an area in Seattle’s East Precinct taken over by protesters and deemed a no-cop zone, became the scene of multiple shootings during its short existence, as well as forcing residents to deal with property damage and violence, which prompted investment group Hunters Capital, along with a group of other local business owners, to sue the city in June 2020 for “depriving them of their rights to their property.” The settlement, which was announced Wednesday and finalized on Friday, includes $600,000 in penalties for text messages deleted by city leaders.

“I am pleased that we were able to resolve this matter and turn a page from a difficult period in the city’s history,” City Attorney Anne Davison said in a statement to King 5 News.

Last month, a judge imposed a “severe sanction” on the city after finding evidence that leaders intentionally deleted thousands of text messages relating to CHOP from their phones, which they attempted to hide for months from attorneys, the Seattle Times reported.

“This lawsuit does not seek to undermine CHOP participants’ message or present a counter-message,” the original lawsuit states. “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.”

Other victims of CHOP have also sued the city, including the father of a 16-year-old shot and killed in the zone and the mother of a 19-year-old man also fatally shot.

The Seattle mayor’s office and city attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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