Crime / Economy
In Sudden Reversal, City Drops Charges Against Anti-Foreclosure Activists
by Ansel Herz
on Sun, Nov 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM
This week, the Seattle City Attorney's office dropped criminal trespassing charges it had filed against five activists who held a sit-in at a bank in July to protest a South Seattle man's foreclosure and eviction.
"We looked at the cases again after your inquiry," says John Schochet, the city attorney's deputy chief of staff, "and determined that they didn't meet our standards for civil disobedience/protest charges." Pressed to explain why the city would initially believe it had the basis to press charges and later retract them, Schochet said that even if a crime was committed, "our office is exercising its discretion not to pursue these charges here."
Some of the activists suggest they were charged—and then let off the hook—because Wells Fargo is the city's bank, and prosecution would entail political undertones. "They realized a trial where they are representing their bank's interests against three senior citizens and two young teachers wouldn't look too good in the eyes of the public," says Kailyn Nicholson, a teacher who participated in the sit-in. "I'm glad they came to their senses."