Korean restaurant sues Seattle after suffering losses during deadly 2020 CHAZ occupation

In addition to the $9.8 million the city has already doled out in settlements and legal fees associated with the occupation, last year Seattle paid $500,000 to the father of 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson, who was shot and killed inside the zone.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The owner of a Seattle restaurant has filed a federal lawsuit against the city for the loss of business and expenses incurred during the deadly 2020 Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

The suit is the latest litigation against the city as a result of the zone that according to the Seattle Times, has already cost Seattle over $9 million.

Peter Pak, the owner of Oma Bap, a Korean restaurant at 11th Avenue and Olive Way, claims in the litigation that Seattle officials that enabled the protests, riots, and more in the neighborhood during the unrest in the summer of 2020 cost his establishment tens of thousands of dollars in business and other damages.

According to the suit filed Thursday in US District Court in Seattle, the city set up portable toilets and dumpsters for protesters at the intersection and turned the corner “into the epicenter of its public-sanitation support” of the autonomous zone.

Due to the city’s actions, those involved in the zone "were continually dumping garbage and human waste outside Oma Bap, and making the area unsightly, unsanitary, unsafe and treacherous to navigate," according to the suit

Pak alleges that as a result of the zone, the restaurant sustained thousands of dollars in damage from vandalism which continued for months after the zone was dismantled because the city allowed and enabled a homeless "tent city" that was established during the armed occupation in Cal Anderson Park, across the street from the restaurant.

According to the suit, the restaurant was forced to board up its windows from September 2020 through February 2021 after they were repeatedly broken. The same lawyers that negotiated a multi-million dollar settlement earlier this year with Seattle on behalf of a dozen Capitol Hill businesses over similar claims are representing Pak.

Seattle settled the businesses claim after a federal judge sanctioned the city for destroying tens of thousands of deleted text messages between then-Mayor Jenny Durkan, former police Chief Carmen Best, fire chief Harold Scoggins, and other city officials during the occupation.

According to the city attorney’s office, Seattle also paid over $6.2 million to Harrigan, Leyh, Farmer, and Thomsen to defend that suit.

The CHAZ was established after the Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon its East Precinct in the Capitol Hill neighborhood following nightly riots by BLM and Antifa following the death of George Floyd. Antifa and BLM rioters seized control of a six-block area of the neighborhood after the precinct was abandoned.

Rioters often attacked police officers with bottles, fireworks, and rocks and city councilmembers even joined in the protests against law enforcement.

The suit alleges that the violence in the zone kept customers away and threatened the restaurant’s employees, including one who quit because he feared coming to work.

City officials coordinated with the armed occupiers of the zone and even spent millions of dollars installing barriers to fortify the occupiers’ positions.  According to the suit, the barriers as well as other city support for the armed occupiers of the later renamed Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) had an “immense” negative impact on the restaurant’s business.

According to the suit, Seattle officials "adopted a policy supporting the CHOP occupation, acting with deliberate indifference toward those suffering harm from it."

The lawsuit claims that Seattle officials had evidence CHOP was negatively affecting businesses and residents but did nothing to stop the violence or protect the businesses and residents in the zone. "Rather than seeking to restore order and protect the residents and property owners within CHOP, the city instead chose to actively endorse, enable, and participate in the occupation of CHOP."

In addition to the $9.8 million the city has already doled out in settlements and legal fees associated with the occupation, last year Seattle paid $500,000 to the father of 19-year-old Lorenzo Anderson, who was shot and killed inside the zone.

6 people were shot and 2 were killed during the armed occupation. According to the Seattle Police, rapes, robberies, and murders spiked 250 percent during the 3 weeks the zone existed.

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