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Business owner in CHOP says city gave away the neighborhood

Barriers in front of the CHOP. (Getty Images)

Business and property owners in and out of CHOP are suing the city of Seattle, arguing that they’ve all been impacted by the city’s lack of immediate action, especially concerning with recent violent incidents.

One of the plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit is Bill Donner. He’s the owner of a consumer label printing business called Richmark Label, which is located right in the middle of CHOP, and joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss.

“A group of us and different businesses don’t like the idea of giving the neighborhood to the protesters. We do not object to the protesters, and a lot of what they want. We just don’t think that taking over a neighborhood is the way to go about it,” he said.

“We all support them and understand their frustration. But the city’s choice to just abandon the police station, abandon the streets — 911 says it’s in service, it’s highly questionable. I called them twice last week, and they simply said they weren’t coming to the area.”

Donner says the area ultimately belongs to the community, which hasn’t be able to access it like before.

“The park, playfield, they belonged to the the community, not just here, but everyone in the city. Kids used the playfield … We have hundreds of thousands of people that live in the area that would like to go out, walk the streets. It’s a beautiful neighborhood,” he said.

Are public officials failing to enforce the rule of law at CHOP?

“The city chose to give it away and we have not seen it do anything to get it back or to work this out. So the point of the lawsuit is to end the stalemate, clear the streets, clear everything.”

How has the business side of things has been impacted directly?

“I was having problems getting people in and out and trucks in and out because protesters put up barricades. They were generally leading people through, but it was intimidation and harassment … Certainly we’ve lost money, certainly we’ve got the cost of repainting the whole building, but my company has been able to operate (because much of it is online). The people have been a little intimidated. That’s probably the worst.”

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Though Donner ultimately supports the cause, does he have any fear of retribution from the remaining activists in CHOP?

“From the rational people, no, but some of the other people nobody knows about. Because all of us do support the cause, we were hoping that the people will realize this is not about hurting them in any way. We all believe the city owes them a sit down,” he said.

“But something had to be done, and that’s what we all thought. And that’s why we did it, and we hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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