The city has until March 3 to pay the sum as part of a settlement revealed last week. According to court filings regarding the settlement, $600,000 will go toward attorney fees for the more than a dozen plaintiffs.
The settlement came just weeks after a federal judge imposed sanctions against the city for deleting thousands of text messages between Seattle officials including former Mayor Jenny Durkan, former police chief Carmen Best, and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins during the armed occupation by Antifa and BLM rioters of 6 square blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The CHAZ, also known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest or CHOP, was established by activists on June 8, 2020, after Seattle police were ordered by police leadership to abandon the department’s East Precinct during the riots that rocked the Emerald City in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 25, 2020. Video of his death emerged, setting off months of riots in the midst of a pandemic.
Zone occupiers refused to allow police into the area. Rapes, robberies, and murders spiked 250 percent in the 6-block area during the occupation. The zone lasted 3 weeks before it was finally broken up by police on July 1, 2020, after two fatal shootings and rioters vandalized then Mayor Durkan's home.
According to court documents, business owners alleged that city officials’ "unprecedented decision to abandon and close off" the 16-block section of the neighborhood "subjected businesses, employees, and residents to extensive property damage, public safety dangers, and an inability to use and access their properties."
It was revealed after the occupation that Seattle officials, including former Mayor Jenny Durkan, former police chief Carmen Best, and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins deleted thousands of text messages from their city-owned phones regarding the zone, including communications with the infamous “warlord” of the autonomous zone, Raz Simone.
US District Judge Thomas Zilly previously sanctioned the city and thereby allowed the jury to view the missing evidence as a strike against the city in the case. Zilly Wrote, “City officials deleted thousands of text messages from their city-owned phones in complete disregard of their legal obligation to preserve relevant evidence. Further, the city significantly delayed disclosing … that thousands of text messages had been deleted” and could not be reproduced or recovered.”
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