City of Seattle settles CHOP lawsuit with Capitol Hill businesses

The city of Seattle has settled a lawsuit with Capitol Hill businesses that sued over its handling of the CHOP in the summer of 2020.

A collection of Seattle businesses, property owners and residents sued the city over its tolerance of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone, saying officials have been complicit in depriving them of their rights to their property. 

The "occupation" began June 8 when the Seattle Police Department, following days of intense clashes with demonstrators in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, abandoned its East Precinct building in the densely populated Capitol Hill neighborhood. Protesters moved police barricades to block traffic, and scores camped in a nearby park.

Just last month, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward. The judge made the decision, saying there was evidence that city leaders like former mayor Jenny Durkan and former police chief Carmen Best intentionally deleted text messages about chop from their phones.

The suit accuses city leaders of "deliberate indifference" in its response to the protests that summer, which allowed CHOP to grow into what it became. 

On Feb. 15, the Seattle City Attorney's Office filed the settlement, but court documents did not disclose what each party agreed to. 

"The parties in the Hunters Capital litigation have resolved those claims and are preparing a formal settlement agreement. Appropriate details of the settlement agreement will be shared when it is finalized," a spokesperson for the Seattle City Attorney's Office said. 

The parties will have until March 10 to finalize the settlement. 

The family of a 19-year-old who was shot and killed while inside the CHOP has also sued the city of Seattle. The city paid a $500,000 settlement to the victim's father.