‘Perpetual block party’ — Real estate companies and businesses sue City of Seattle over Capitol Hill protest zone

The City of Seattle is being threatened with a class action lawsuit brought by a collection of Capitol Hill real estate companies and developers, and a small group of 12th Ave businesses over Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Police Department’s response to the Capitol Hill protest zone, calling the situation “a perpetual block party.”

“This is not a step our clients have taken lightly,” lawyers at the firm Calfo Eakes write in a press release on the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court. “The rights of free speech and assembly are enshrined in our constitutional tradition, and our clients support protesters’ right to bring issues such as systemic racism and police brutality towards African Americans to the forefront of the national consciousness.”

The legal action comes as the size and scale of the protest zone has consolidated around 12th and Pine’s emptied East Precinct building after a weekend of deadly gun violence and a push from Durkan and SPD Chief Carmen Best to bring the occupied protest to an end “peacefully and in the near future” through community outreach and social services, not marching SPD officers into the zone in riot gear.

The firm says its clients “stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the thousands upon thousands of people in Seattle who have peacefully protested” but “the City should not allow the right to peacefully protest and demand systemic change to manifest itself in acts of violence, harassment, and property damage, which has caused residents and small businesses to incur tremendous economic loss and instilled in them a fear to live and work in a neighborhood many moved to because of its history of activism, diversity, inclusion, and community-led investment.”

The class action lawsuit includes a complainant list made up of many of the Capitol Hill-focused and local developers and real estate investment companies that hold properties on the edges of the protest zone that has been the center of demonstrations and an occupied protest camp for weeks. Continue reading

Capitol Hill protest zone shifts out of Cal Anderson Park with remaining core of campers surrounding East Precinct — UPDATE

UPDATE: Daytime scenes from the camp’s return to 12th and Pine

Uncertainty gave way to a multiplicity of plans Tuesday night as the Capitol Hill protest zone camp cleared parts of its Cal Anderson Park core.

Some carried their tents across the turf Bobby Morris field to strengthen and continue the occupation around the emptied East Precinct and carry on with Black Lives Matter goals and calls for defunding the Seattle Police Department.

Some rallied around a reported plan to move to a new camp below the Space Needle for renewed energy — and attention.

Others broke camp and left the scene. Continue reading

Report of another shooting near Capitol Hill protest camp — UPDATE: One to hospital

A victim is carried by the camp’s medic volunteers at Cal Anderson Sunday night (Image: Matt Mitgang)

A camp security volunteer responds to Sunday night’s shooting (Image: Matt Mitgang)

Another night of gun violence has sent at least one person to the hospital after a shooting in the area of the Capitol HIll protest camp Sunday night.

All information is preliminary at this time and has not been confirmed by police or Seattle Fire. Seattle Police has confirmed there was a shooting and that one person was taken to the hospital and that there were reports of a possible second shooting incident.

UPDATE 6/22/20 10:26 AM: SPD has posted a brief on the shooting reporting that the victim is a 17-year-old:

At 10:03 PM, police were monitoring a demonstration which had marched from the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area to the West Precinct at 8th and Virginia in downtown Seattle. The march was returning to Capitol Hill when SPD’s 911 Center received multiple reports of gunfire near Cal Anderson Park. To ensure the safety of medical personnel, police staged with Seattle Fire at the edge of the CHOP area and were gathering information about where the shooting victim was located when they learned he had been transported in a private vehicle to Harborview Medical Center. Police received reports of a possible second injured person but were unable to confirm that there were any additional victims. The 17-year-old victim sustained a gunshot wound to the arm. He declined to speak with detectives. He was treated and released from the hospital. The Seattle Police Department is responding to 911 calls all over the city, including inside the CHOP. For 911 calls from within CHOP, officers will attempt to coordinate contact with victims and witnesses outside the protest zone. Anyone with information on the shooting that occurred Sunday is asked to call the tip line at (206) 233-5000.

Witnesses reported hearing multiple rounds of gunfire in an incident around 10:40 PM near the protest zone. Video from the scene also captured the sounds of gunfire.

A witness said organizers reported one victim was taken to the hospital with a shoulder wound.

There were reports of a possible second victim but no other person was reported injured in the incident.
Continue reading

‘They’re kids’ — 19-year-old remembered in the aftermath of Capitol Hill protest zone shooting

A memorial to AndersonThe 19-year-old shot and killed at the corner of 10th and Pine early Saturday morning has been identified by friends and loved ones as Lorenzo Anderson.

While his killing became an international story amid Seattle’s ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the protest camp that has grown on Capitol Hill, those that knew Anderson saw a different sort of tragedy than the versions being spun for political ends Saturday.

“They’re kids,” Renton High School dean of students and head basketball coach Rashaad Powell tells CHS. “This is my tenth year as an educator. Over the course of 10 years, there have been double digits of young people we lost.” Continue reading

One dead, one wounded in overnight Capitol Hill protest zone shooting — UPDATE

Livestreamer Converge Media showed the aftermath of the shooting

One man was reported dead and another person was shot and wounded in an overnight shooting at the Capitol Hill protest zone.

Police have confirmed the shooting but have not released further details. It was not clear if any suspects were in custody.

UPDATE 10:10 AM: Seattle Police have confirmed CHS’s early reports on the shooting and say that a 19-year-old is dead and that there have been no arrests:

On June 20th, at approximately 2:30 AM, East Precinct officers responded to a report of shots fired in Cal Anderson Park. This is inside the area referred to as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). Officers attempted to locate a shooting victim but were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims. Officers were later informed that the victims, both males, had been transported to Harborview Medical Center by CHOP medics. Officers responded to Harborview and were informed that one of the victims, a 19-year-old male, had died from injuries. The other victim, also a male, unknown age, remains in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The suspect or suspect(s) fled and are still at large. There is no description at this time. Homicide detectives responded and are conducting a thorough investigation, despite the challenges presented by the circumstances.

Police are asking for the public’s assistance in gathering evidence. Anyone with information about the shooting or who may have video from the incident is asked to contact the Seattle Police Department’s Violent Crime tip line at (206) 233-5000.

UPDATE 4:45 PM: SPD has taken the unusual step of immediately posting a video that shows social media streams along with officer worn body video of the scene around the shooting as it happened:

The video begins with the seconds before a series of quick shots rings out and mostly reveals the frantic minutes that followed the shooting as police faced groups of demonstrators.

Police have also posted a log of the timeline of the events (PDF) from the department’s perspective. We have embedded the timeline below.

UPDATE 6:07 PM: Decriminalize Seattle, a coalition of groups involved with CHOP, has released a statement on the shooting.

“Last night’s shooting at CHAZ/CHOP is a tragedy. Our task now is to support the family and community of the person killed, the people injured in the shooting, and the people who witnessed the shooting,” the statement reads.

“We know that in every neighborhood of our city, violence is a constant. We know that police do not stop violence,” they write. “We know that violence happens even when the police are present. Less than a year ago, a Black woman was killed on the same block as last night’s shooting, with the East Precinct fully staffed with officers only 200 feet away. The presence of police did not stop that death.”

In 2019, 25-year-old Rayshauna Webber was stabbed and killed in Cal Anderson in a dispute with a man who took offense to a rejection of his offer to light a cigarette. David Nichols, 50, faces charges of second-degree murder and assault in the second degree in the killing.

In the statement, the groups say they do not yet know who is responsible for Saturday morning’s shooting but “real solutions do not look like continuing to fund and support the police.”

The full Decriminalize Seattle statement can be found at the end of this post.

Multiple people reported hearing three to six gunshots from the area of 10th and Pine around 2:20 AM. Police radio updates described people seen fleeing to the north on 11th from Pine and through Cal Anderson.

One victim was reported undergoing CPR in front of the Rancho Bravo restaurant at 10th and Pine before he was transported to Harborview by the protest camp medical volunteers. According to Seattle Police radio updates the man was dead when he arrived at Harborview. Livestreams from the camp in the wake of the shooting also showed a video of an announcement of the man’s death to the protest camp. Continue reading

A look at the Seattle Police report on the Capitol Hill protest zone auto garage break-in Seattle Police didn’t respond to

An incident that has become a CHOP talking point in everything from Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal to neighbors asking Seattle Police to respond to 911 calls near the Capitol Hill protest zone was set off by an alleged thief on a burglary spree making an ill-advised entry into a 12th Ave auto garage, according to court records.

Police say 21-year-old Richard Hanks was the suspect caught in the act Sunday night and held by the owners of 12th Ave’s Car Tender garage in an incident at the center of our report this week on the East Precinct’s refusal to respond to incidents near the protest.

Hanks is in custody and charged for crimes in the alleged spree. But it isn’t because he was arrested by police on Capitol Hill on Sunday. Prosecutors say Hanks was busted the next night after he was caught allegedly breaking into and trying to steal a car in unincorporated King County.

Tuesday, Seattle Police interviewed the Car Tender owners about what had transpired there.

The arrest and newly released police report on the incident reveal new details about the strange episode, a violent scene with the protesters who responded, and the tensions on the police force about the situation around the protest zone. “Almost all of this incident was captured on various social media posts,” the reporting officer writes about the Sunday night incident at Car Tender. “I have downloaded more than a dozen videos of this incident and can submit them as evidence once we are allowed to have our precinct back.” Continue reading

Police and crowd control tactics left the scene, but residents near Capitol Hill protest zone contend with ongoing occupancy

Residents living in apartment buildings in and around the Capitol Hill protest zone are voicing ongoing concerns about demonstrators staging in the area, and increasingly drawing a distinction between current occupancy and the protesting against police brutality and inequality that has take place in Seattle since the end of May.

In the midst of the standoff between protestors and police guarding the East Precinct that let up June 8, residents of buildings like 11th and Pine’s Sunset Electric Apartments expressed concern about the harmful effects of police crowd control tactics being used. Although the weeklong standoff dissipated and “Free Capitol Hill” formed, residents in apartment complexes near the zone — like 12th Avenue Arts and 12th and Pine’s Packard Building Apartments — remain concerned.

One Packard resident, who has chosen to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, is leading efforts among 18 residents in the building to formulate a list of joint safety and security concerns to be sent to Mayor Durkan, Seattle City Council and other city department officials. According to the resident, residents in five of the other apartments in the building moved out in the past 48 hours because of these concerns.

A full letter from the group can be found at the end of this post. Continue reading

Juneteenth in Seattle: Freedom March in the Central District, Blackout healing at the CHOP

The Buffalo Soldiers Of Seattle, 9th-10th Cavalry from a Seattle Juneteenth past (Image: Karen Toering)

A Friday of actions to mark Juneteenth will further efforts to re-center Seattle’s ongoing demonstrations on the city’s Black community and Black Lives Matter goals,

In the Central District, leaders from Africatown and the King County Equity Now coalition will rally at 22nd and Madison for a march to Jimi Hendrix Park and a day of rallies, a teach-in, and a celebration of Black graduates.

Juneteenth Freedom March

The Africatown-led King County Equity Now coalition has emerged from the protests with a roster of demands for officials to accept proposals from “Black-led, community-based organizations to maximize” the use of “underutilized public land for community benefit” at a roster of Central Seattle properties. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

City of Seattle works out new shape with Capitol Hill protest zone and camp

(Image: @matmitgang)

New footprint map

New footprint map (Image: City of Seattle)

The City of Seattle has announced agreement with organizers at the Capitol Hill protest site that has sprouted around the boarded-up East Precinct that will consolidate the camp and demonstration area on the now art-filled E Pine and in Cal Anderson Park:

Minor changes to the protest zone will implement safer and sturdier barriers to protect individuals in this area, allow traffic to move throughout the Capitol Hill neighborhood, ease access for residents of apartment building in the surrounding areas, and help local businesses manage deliveries and logistics. Additionally all plans have been crafted with the goal of allowing access for emergency personnel including fire trucks.

Seattle Department of Transportation crews were busy Tuesday morning moving and replacing the many large barriers left behind by Seattle Police that camp organizers had used to cordon off the streets and block the area to vehicle traffic. The new setup includes heavy safety barriers used to create new lanes for traffic while protecting protest zones near the precinct. It includes many softer barriers to help direct activities — the new plywood will also add to the opportunities for painting, tagging, and art in the area. Continue reading