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As more get the go-ahead to reopen, businesses in the Capitol Hill protest zone seek city support

Small businesses on the edges of the Capitol Hill protest zone — many of which have been using their facilities to help the communities and activists at work there — are in the midst of figuring out how to safely and economically sustain their businesses as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted and in the middle of a rapidly changing demonstration and camp right outside their doors.

“The decision to reopen was literally a survival mode decision — our staff cannot live off unemployment, they have to go back to work to feed their families. We have to go back to work to pay rent,” BANG owner Casey Nickole tells CHS.

Nickole reopened her four hair salons at 25% capacity on Monday after three months of closure. BANG’s E Pine location is situated less than half a block away from the East Precinct where protestors have established and maintained a camp and demonstration area for more than a week.

This week, King County applied to move into Phase 2 to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions. Local businesses after an interim step this month which allows restaurants, retailers and personal services like hair salons to open to the public at limited capacities. By Friday, things could open up a little bit more.

For a little over a week, BANG turned its Capitol Hill locations into spaces to aid protestors at the Pine and 11th standoff. The business offered bathrooms, food, phone chargers, wifi and medical support to protestors.

“We treated a rubber bullet wound, tear gas — we were like putting people in the shampoo bowls and rinsing their faces off,” Nickole recalled.

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According to Nickole, BANG is now adjusting to the Phase 1.5 reopening requirements, including keeping the shop’s front door locked, having clients wait outside and issuing temperature checks.

“I felt compelled and obligated to distribute whatever equity we had, to share our space, to offer nice bathrooms and food to people who are in solidarity and protesting for Black Lives Matter, ” she said. “I really do believe in the advocacy and the occupation for change, and I can see it happening.”

On Tuesday, the City of Seattle announced an agreement with some of the CHOP protest organizers to condense and rearrange the boundaries of the protest zone. Seattle Department of Transportation officials were seen constructing traffic lanes to clear access for first responders and other emergency services.

The safety changes this week should also help address some of a growing call from residents in the neighborhood worried about the ongoing protest and camp and a reduced presence of SPD in the area.

“SFD Scoggins, SDOT, and SPU addressed a lot of the access questions,” Elliott Bay Book Company general manager Tracy Taylor said over email. “Chief Scoggins has done a tremendous job working under difficult circumstances trying to listen to as many voices as possible. His leadership has helped shape changes that will hopefully provide more safety for the protestors and better emergency access for businesses and residents.”

Taylor, along with fellow Small Business Advisory Council member Joey Burgess, sent an email to Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council on Friday expressing their safety concerns — including how emergency medical teams and postal services would access streets in the protest zone — and called for a safety plan for the area.

Mayor Durkan and the Seattle City Council,

We recognize the important cultural shift taking place right now. Capitol HIll has always been a place where people gather to exercise their rights of free expression, and we want to acknowledge the city’s willingness to maintain this tradition. However it must not abdicate its responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the residents. We agree with the Mayor’s statement that we need to keep our community safe together.  In that spirit, it is critical that the City of Seattle provide answers to the following questions before the weekend begins, and as more people mass within the neighborhood.

How does the city plan to respond and provide aid to anyone needing emergency medical support?  Specifically, how does Emergency Services plan to respond to incidents that occur within a residential/commercial building that is blocked? Earlier in the week, we were told there would be easy access for fire and emergency vehicles. Today, there are abandoned cars woven into the barricades. If there is a fire in an alley, dumpster or building how is the city able to respond?  Where are the designated fire lanes that the city requires from all festivals or street closures?

What provisions are being made for ADA access?  Sidewalks are blocked, crosswalks are nonexistent. Our city must comply with federal civil rights mandates to provide equitable and accessible space for everyone. This is imperative. We can’t trade one denial of basic human rights for another.

How does the city plan to ensure that mail and delivery trucks can easily access residences  and businesses? Remediation services have been called in to repair damage and secure buildings and homes within the area. As of today, many of them have access issues. Mail is not being delivered to many. Not only are businesses who planned for a Phase 1.5 opening unable to receive much needed deliveries, but residents who rely on home grocery services and prescription drug deliveries during this pandemic are being denied access to these services.

We have an influx of outside groups coming to the neighborhood in a vigilante fashion.  Pickup trucks with flags and “proud boys” have been seen on the fringe of demonstrations. This is a neighborhood that is supposed to be a safe haven for the queer community. We have already had one act of terrorism this week on 11th Avenue and are rembering the Pulse massacre anniversary today. There is a high level of anxiety for many members of the community who are not able to seek their usual support networks. What measures are being taken to protect the safety and rights of our Queer community?

We demand a direct response from the Mayor to these urgent public safety concerns and a plan for how the rights and safety of everyone around Cal Anderson Park and the Pike-Pine area will be restored and protected in the immediate future.

Joey Burgess, Queer/Bar, Cuff Complex & The Woods, SBAC

Tracy Taylor, Elliott Bay Book Company. SBAC

According to Taylor, the City Council and Mayor Durkan have not directly responded, but “Sabrina Boulieau and other staff from the 7th floor of City Hall have reached out.”

CHS has contacted city public information officers and will update when more information is released about any further responses to the email.

While Elliott Bay’s storefront remains closed to the public, the shop is underway on online delivery orders.

Burgess, who owns multiple businesses surrounding the protest zone, has been able to reopen 13th and Pine’s gay bar The Cuff Complex at limited capacity.

“We’re doing barbecues nightly with proceeds going to Black Lives Matter King County — we’re trying to be a community space at this point,” Burgess said.

Burgess also owns 11th Ave’s Queer/Bar, which remains shuttered in the aftermath from its close proximity to the protests of the past few weeks.

“There [are] ample gas remnants and pepper spray in the businesses on 11th avenue that were discharged by the police,” Burgess told CHS. “We can’t open those spaces until we get a remediation crew in, and we are waiting to find out what the city’s plan is in supporting how they can clean up the mess that they’ve made.”

Meanwhile, as local businesses adjust to swift changes happening in and around the protest zone, the GSBA and its neighborhood business network Capitol Hill Business Alliance are distributing a survey to gauge how businesses are faring during this time.

“Has the situation with the protests changed your mind about reopening?,” the survey inquires.

12th and Pine’s Eltana bagel joint, located directly across from the East Precinct and center of the protest zone, has found a new way to maintain business during this time as it now offers neighborhood deliveries across Seattle in addition to carry-out pickups. According to owner Stephen Brown, the shop will not be opening with limited indoor seating until King County guidelines allow the store to open at full capacity again.

“I have a tremendous amount of empathy for people whose products and services don’t present them with the adaptability options that ours does,” Brown told CHS. “We’re blessed with a product that is mostly consumed in the morning and protesting is an activity that’s mostly practiced in the evening, so we’re lucky that way.”

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26 thoughts on “As more get the go-ahead to reopen, businesses in the Capitol Hill protest zone seek city support” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. This is crazy shit. I fully support police reform, and all the goals of BLM, but CHOP is hurting LGBTQ and minority owned businesses and staff. And that hurts the entire community. The press needs to be more critical here. And the Mayor needs to step up and help these businesses today.

    And, why isn’t CHS reporting on how the CHOP leaders made a deal to allow 11th to open, but now have retaken the entire street? Once again harming women and LGBTQ owned businesses?

      • I totally agree too! I’m a zone resident myself, and while I fully support an organized occupied protest zone, I do not support a lawless party occupied zone. We all have had both sides at CHAZ/CHOP.

        My main concern is safety. With the Car Tender incident, we all realized SPD won’t dispatch anyone to the zone or nearby the zone.

        The zone orginizers claim they’re handling vandalism, so I’ve seen videos where “Raz aka Warlord” or other security volunteers have been beating up people who were doing something wrong and then kicking them out of the zone.

        Here’s my questions… What’s the real plan for dealing with violence? Assault, robbery, PB attacks and most importantly, preventing these offenders from frequently the zone and becoming a habit. what’s the story for keeping them out of the zone? what’s the jail equivalent? What’s the plan for controling a looting incident?

        Again, I support an organized protest zone, but without an actual law enforcement plan, this could lead to many things.

    • Hard to see this changing anytime soon. The council has effectively neutered the mayor and seems content to continue to use the protestors as publicity to drive their own ambitions and agenda. It also seems likely many of those hanging out in the area won’t have a job to go back too anytime soon so why not hang out all summer. I’m afraid it will probably take a serious incident before there is a real conversation about how to resolve the situation with CHOP. In the meantime residents and business owners will continue to bear the brunt of the fallout. Hopefully they can all take comfort in the knowledge their sacrifice will allow the council to finally pass their Amazon Tax and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.

  2. Feel bad for those businesses. But there is ZERO chance that I go down there for anything so long as the the chaz nonsense is allowed.

    No way am I taking my family down there for anything until it’s all cleaned up and back to normal. Too many other places to go without dealing with that drama.

    • Cleaned up and back to normal? I mean the hill has always been kind of a wreck and full of drama. Not sure what you;re looking for? I wouldn’t say Capitol Hill is exactly going for the “family friendly” environment? Delusional twit

      • Capitol Hill has been completely gentrified over the past few years. The only fangs it has are if those selling drugs to tech bros get into a dispute. The mess and chaos of Chaz/Chop is out of place for most people unless you are The Stranger. But the business owners who advertise in it are probably pretty unamused at this point.

      • “Capitol Hill has been completely gentrified… the only fangs it has…”

        You just missed such a great tech gentrification pun, I almost want to cry.

      • Now Come Right On, you are full of bullshit. I am raising my kids on the west side of Capitol Hill, two blocks from Broadway. CH It is not a “mess” and I have never once feared for their safety…this was before the whole CHAZ/CHOP hoopla started up. Capitol Hill is now a wreck, now more so than ever. So please, “Now Come Right On” don’t use fiction to try and push your opinion.

      • That is just absolutely not true. I live very close to pike/pine, have 3 kids under 5yrs old and we used to spend a TON of time down there. At the park, restaurants, shopping, etc. I’m not taking them out late on weekend nights, so don’t be obtuse.

        And I’m 100% certain that you would never call me a “delusional twit” to my face. So please keep that sort of childish stuff out of here.

  3. But it’s the summer of love !!

    Agree with others that I’m not visiting that area. Too many people, good ol boys with their flag marching around, homeless camp over in Cal Anderson. If I owned a business or home I’d stop paying property tax until services are restored…

  4. Boy, look at the astroturfed troll comments about “war lords” and lawlessness. It’s bullshit.

    You know how I know these are fake as shit comments? Because I AM HERE. Right now.

    I own a business in CHOP. Business in the area is UP. You can ask any fucking business here. I’ve been coming and going since this started. the only time there were problems was when the police were here.

    Yes. Yes. We know it’s not sustainable. We have to transition back to city control. But the police abandoned us, not the other way around. They chased business away with tear gas and nearly killing people. they can come back when they prove their not going to be the corrupt expensive bullies they have been.

    They were not driven off. That is a lie. I was there. They snuck off during the day when there were hardly any protestors.

    The entire debacle is a result of the police deliberately escalating violence.

    And there was Nikolas Fernandez, brother of an officer at the precinct, who attempted to murder protestors with his car and SHOT the person attempting to stop him. And he ran to the police ARMED was welcomed like family.

    Then later the police shot a totally peaceful woman with a tear gas grenade POINT BLANK in the chest nearly killing here. And then they shot the street medics attempting to help. She’d be dead if it wasn’t for those volunteers.

    The police and their apologist trolls in here are attempting to change reality and the narrative away from that to this idea there is chaos up here. There isn’t. It’s not ideal. But it badly The Road Warrior.

    Change never comes clean. It only happens messy. that’s the way it is. You can’t say you support BLM or are again police brutality and then turn around and want all that change to happen my fairy magic. That’s not how it works.

    • Just curious. Are other cities that are anticipating or attempting to address some of the issues raised recently experiencing a similar occupation or continous protest zone? I have not heard of anything like this outside of Seattle, and wonder, are they taking place? Or are other city residents finding ways to make calls for change without incorporating these occupation methods?

      • I think some tried to replicate it in Asheville NC and the police just took it down immediately and told them to leave. In other words, it was handled. There is a concern discussed about this idea spreading.

      • @werwer
        Portland just showed Seattle up for fools…. a similar action was tried down there and was shut down faster than it could happen…. you know it’s bad when Portland won’t tolerate it…

    • I don’t think anyone reasonable expects change to come via “fairy magic”. I just also don’t see it coming from living in Cal Anderson Park, tagging the crap out of the neighborhood, and at least two documented instances of attempted arson.

      • Agree. If the occupation was somehow contributing to change, that would be one thing. But it is not….it’s really just a scene for homeless people and others to hang out/party, and think they are somehow making a difference. Change is happening here in Seattle and across the nation, but it has nothing to do with this occupation, and the latter is having a huge negative effect on the residents and businesses of the area.

      • Yup…evolving policing standards forward is not going to come from a handful of white anarchists in Seattle and some barley employable full time activists with some street addicts thrown in because, well, its Seattle. But in Seattle we are known for incredible tunnel vision and navel gazing.

    • See it yourselves…

      youtube .com/watch?v=KTJ_xW-s7Xw

      youtube .com/watch?v=AOalRAQx_Eo

      youtube .com/watch?v=X3GHjC6J7dM

      youtube .com/watch?v=7o7Dx1RGN20

      youtube .com/watch?v=Mbe3xNHEqNA

      twitter .com/spekulation/status/1272742555700957191?s=20

  5. Back at you “Come On Right Now”. First of all…you were the one to start with calling out “delusional twit.” But yes, I would call you that to your face…or perhaps “helicopter parent” is more applicable here. Keep sheltering your kids from the “big bad world.” Keep instilling your white fragility and inherent discrimination towards any group that compromises your perception of what is “okay.” You raise your kids however you see fit…I’ll try to raise mine to be more open minded and accepting of change. Without change there can be no progress.

    • LOL not sure if this is the same “Cappy” that replied just above my not above… but my comments were directed at “Now Come Right On”, not “Cappy”.

      You can do whatever you want with your kids and I’ll do the same with mine. And if you called me a delusional twit to my face you’d get knocked the f out just like Now Come Right On would. But I’m pretty sure your comment here was just a mistake. : )

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