The battle to sell off the Midtown Center property at 23rd and Union is keeping the courts busy. CHS broke the news this week on the family legal fight holding up a $23.5 million deal to sell the property to a California-based apartment developer.
Now we have learned of another legal fight stemming from the issues at Midtown that might have more immediate ramifications for the block while setting up a last stand of sorts for a long time part of the activist community around Africatown.
Omari Tahir-Garrett is suing everyone from the family partnership behind Midtown Center to Kshama Sawant and Seattle City Light in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought after utilities were cut off the property where his UMOJA P.E.A.C.E Center is located at 24th and E Spring.
In his suit, Tahir-Garrett alleges that the long list of defendants acted on “strong racial hostility” and violated his first amendment rights because of “Black community activism” —
CHS reported earlier on a group of former Nickelsville residents who had moved onto the property and set up a camp mid-March. A member of the Midtown Partnership told CHS they were not approached about the encampment and that the campers would soon be given a 10-day notice to vacate the property. Garrett and some of the campers said they are on the search for a more permanent location.
In the legal filings, Tahir-Garrett alleges that defendants including Sawant, and City Council member Bruce Harrell, plus the Midtown Partnership are “engaging in ethnic cleansing” and attempting to oppress Black Culture.
Tahir-Garrett’s lawsuit calls for “injunctive relief” and back pay for the years he says he worked to manage the property plus $5.5 million for racial harassment and another $100,000 against a member of the Midtown Partnership for defamation of character. By our math, the claims total around $5.7 million.
Meanwhile, Western Washington District Court Judge the Hon. Brian A Tsuchida granted Garrett’s request to have his legal fees in the case waived. Tahir-Garrett is representing himself.