Seattle to pay $3.6 million to business owners in CHOP settlement

Seattle will pay $3.6 Million to business owners who claimed that their properties were damaged or their Constitutional rights were violated during the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone (CHOP) in the summer 2020.

As part of the settlement reached this week, the city has until March 3, to pay $3,650,000. According to paperwork, $600,000.000 will be used for attorney fees and expenses.

Ann Davison, Seattle City Attorney, stated that she was pleased with the resolution of this matter and turned a page in a difficult period in city history.

After the shooting death of George Floyd, Minneapolis police created the CHOP zone. It was established from June to July 2020. In an attempt to demand racial justice, and to end police violence, protestors and police blocked the fire trucks and police from the area. But it turned out to be something quite different.

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A lawsuit was filed by more than a dozen people against the city claiming that the CHOP zone caused damage to property and threatened safety of their customers and employees. There were also shootings and assaults and the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department was abandoned.

It was found that high-ranking Seattle officials including Jenny Durkan (then-Seattle Mayor), Carmen Best (then-Seattle Police Chief) and Harold Scoggins (Seattle Fire Department Chief) deleted thousands of text messages from City-owned phones that contained information regarding the CHOP.

According to court documents, the lawsuit claimed that the Seattle leaders deleted text messages in “complete disregard” their legal obligation of preserving relevant evidence. The City also ignored litigation holds and numerous letters from business owners asking for preservation of all CHOP-related communications.