Local ice cream maker Molly Moon’s is suing the City of Seattle for losses it claims came from the decision by the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to leave its East Precinct building during the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).
In the federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, Molly Moon’s stated its constitutional rights were “overrun” by the city’s decision to “abandon” the 10-block area of Capitol Hill overtaken by protesters. The ice cream maker is accusing the city of materially supporting and encouraging “a hostile occupation of that neighborhood.”
“This lawsuit does not seek to undermine CHOP participants’ message or present a counter message,” the lawsuit, acquired by KIRO Newsradio, read. “Rather, this lawsuit is about the plaintiff’s constitutional and other legal rights, of which were overrun by the City of Seattle’s decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood, leaving it unchecked by the police, unserved by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large, and then materially support and encourage a hostile occupation of that neighborhood. The City’s decision subjected businesses, employees, and residents of that neighborhood to extensive property damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties.”
Molly Moon’s claimed the protest made its shop, located just across from Cal Anderson Park, unreachable and they suffered huge losses in revenue.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and demands payment for damages, which are unspecified as of this reporting.
Earlier this year, a federal judge, Thomas Zilly, handed down sanctions against the City of Seattle for deleting tens of thousands of missing text messages from the phones of top officials, including the former mayor and police chief, during CHOP in the summer of 2020. Zilly wrote there was evidence of “gross negligence” by the city and significant evidence that the destruction of CHOP evidence was intentional and city officials attempted to hide the deleting of texts for months in the face of opposing lawsuits.
But despite the sanction, not all businesses have received vindication or compensation for operating near CHOP. Several Capitol Hill property owners ultimately failed to meet several criteria to reach class-action certification last year. The judge’s reasoning, according to court documents, was the differences among the accusations and damage descriptions the individual plaintiffs leveled against Seattle.
Molly Moon’s representation and the Office of the Seattle City Attorney have both been contacted for comment.
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