Byron Barton, his arm raised in solidarity with a protest against his eviction, was put in an ambulance, intended for the VA Hospital. Protesters blocked the ambulance departure and Barton was removed and put on the street.
UPDATE 3- SLIDESHOW: Scene of an eviction; Barton family evicted from home amid protest
Barton family will hold a press conference downtown; Arrest could happen anytime
By Tim Clifford
UPDATE Sunday July 20 5:30pm
Tomorrow the Barton family and S.A.F.E. are planning to hold a press conference in front of City Hall at 8:30 a.m. "We are hoping that the mayor will tell SPD to stand down" said Jean Barton of the goal for tomorrow's conference.
Taking inspiration from a similar incident that occurred in Oregon the Bartons are hopeful that they can get the attention of the mayor and prompt him to stop SPD from taking them out of their home again. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is expected to speak tomorrow as well.
Chained up to the hospital bed of their West Seattle home, Jean and Byron Barton and family friend Shelly Mullin plus other supporters feared arrest after re-entering the house after being evicted in the morning. Captain David Proudfoot of the South Precinct entered their dark basement and made it clear to them what their status was. "We're trying to take every thing as methodically as we can," he said," But I want to make it clear you all are in the process of committing a crime of criminal trespass....You could all be arrested at any time. Because of the nature of all of this so we know what's going on and everybody has a chance to think through the process, unless someone wants to go to jail at this time we won't be making arrests at the moment." Capt. Proudfoot went on to explain that any property damage that occurs might bring back the police and trigger a more immediate arrest. "With all that in mind we're going to take a couple of days to allow everyone to review everything and be as methodical as we can and make sure everyone's rights are protected. That's our primary concern." He also stressed that should Barton's physical health deteriorate they should not fear calling 911. "Nothing going on here is worth somebody dying for."
For her part Jean Barton noted that the writ granted to property owner Triangle Properties is due to expire on July 21. That would give them an additional 20 days or so to make arrangements to move. During the process of covering the story the family was told that several people have come forward with offers of monetary support, notably through KOMO TV.
Byron Barton and family are back in the house but it's unclear for how long as they await reaction from both the City Attorney for Seattle and the King County Sheriff.
Tensions were high this morning at the home of Jean and Byron Barton as they were forcibly evicted by King County Sheriff’s officers from their home of 61 years on the 6500 block of 41st Ave S.W.
Sheriff’s deputies entered the home to find the Bartons chained to their bed around 8:30 a.m. and were also met with a blockade by S.A.F.E. (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction) protesters in front of all of the major entrances to the home. “Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!” sounded Joshua Farris, a S.A.F.E. organizer, over a bullhorn as police and a nearby ambulance prepared to take Byron Barton out of his home.
Byron is a Vietnam Veteran who after suffering a stroke developed a blood clot in his brain and has been bed ridden ever since. Due to his condition Byron is disabled and struggles to speak or walk. His 24 year old son quit college at South Seattle College to stay home and help Byron since he became disabled.
As the police emerged with Byron in a gurney protesters began laying down to block the path of police officers, first blocking the path down a flight of stairs leading from the house and eventually laying under the tires of an ambulance that was there to take Byron to the hospital.
“You guys are not human beings! You only work for the money!” shouted one woman as she lay under an ambulance tire and was wrestling with deputies.
“Do the right thing!” shouted Farris at the ambulance driver, urging him to step out of the ambulance and refuse to drive away.
“This person who lives in this house, who has the right to live here, has served his country. He is disabled. He has health issues. I don’t understand how this is justice that he is being evicted from his house even though he has stated very clearly that he wants to stay in his house” said Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant who was present to speak at a scheduled press conference in front of the home.
This scene at the home follows a protest and candlelight vigil that was held outside of the home of Mohamad Daher, the manager of Triangle Properties, last night at 9 p.m. on Harbor Ave. S.W. Triangle Properties bought the foreclosed home at auction in April and has been pushing for the Barton family to vacate since. Despite the ongoing legal battle that the Bartons and Triangle Properties are engaged in at the moment the Bartons fear that their house will be torn down for a development project as soon as they leave.
“We are still court right now and trying to appeal this thing” explained Jean Barton of the families current situation. “He can only stay at the VA for 5 weeks and me and my kids can’t keep staying at friend’s houses, so we don’t know yet what we are going to do” she said of the family’s plans.
King County Sheriff’s Office captain Noel Fryberger, who was on the scene to help the family gather the rest of their belongings, scoffed at the resistance and seemed annoyed and unimpressed saying “This really wasn’t that much resistance, they were trying to make their point, ok, and this is America and you get to say what you think. But you need to be reasonable also, and my guys are trying to do their job as well”. As he was speaking 7 Seattle Police vehicles rolled into the neighborhood to assist with quelling the protest.
“We worked with them over the last two weeks, you know they were up in court trying to get an extension on the writ two weeks ago and the judge didn’t grant it” Fryberger explained.
The Bartons made headlines and were featured on local television news channels when last month a King County Sheriff’s deputy came to evict them and refused to follow through with it after seeing the condition that Byron was in. Despite demands from the lawyers for Triangle Properties the King County Sheriff’s office held off on the eviction and tried to give time for the Bartons to make headway in court. Things have turned out in the Barton’s favor throughout these proceedings and thus the eviction Friday morning.
As the deputies were loading Byron into the ambulance a reporter managed to lean in and ask him if he wanted to go with them to the Veteran’s hospital. Byron struggled to say “No…I want to go home."
Eventually the police pulled Byron out of the ambulance after changing all of the locks to the house and proceeded to do exactly what they had once found too “immoral” to do, leaving Byron on the sidewalk. “I have no place to go, I guess I will take him to the VA hospital myself” said Jean Barton.
Approximately an hour later the home was found “unsecured” and S.A.F.E. and Jean Barton were able to take Byron back inside and lock him in. S.A.F.E. then contacted the Seattle Police Department and the City Attorney Pete Holmes to tell them about that the Barton’s had re-entered the home.
As Jeremy Griffin, the president of S.A.F.E., said of the future plans for this protest “from here we continue to fight”.
As Griffin explained of the legal quagmire that the Bartons are in “the problem is that those assignments (the foreclosure) that they make are done fraudulently and illegally. Illegal and incorrect notaries are common”. Currently the Bartons and S.A.F.E. have been fighting the legality of the purchase by Triangle Properties in April. “The majority of courts do not want to take a stand on this because of what it would mean for the banking industry. It would bring all of their practices out to light. The banking industry would rather just pay fines to the federal government for their illegal activity and just continue doing that activity”.
While the Bartons are in the house now, according to the eviction notice that is posted on their door new troubles may not be far off. If any of Barton’s neighbors report that he has returned to the safety of his home the King County Sheriff’s Office will have to return to remove him.
Jean Barton said she would appreciate any offers of help and can be reached via cell phone at 206-355-8300.
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