Josh from S.A.F.E. was the primary speaker at an press conference held just outside the office of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on July 21. The group is hoping to prevent the eviction of Jean and Byron Barton from their home in West Seattle and asked that while the matter is in the legal process, that the Mayor order that no arrests be made for what has been called criminal trespassing by the authorities.
UPDATE: Barton family eviction protest heads to City Hall
Mayor Murray issues statement; Orders police to wait until court proceedings are resolved
Mayor Murray responded with a statement on the Barton family situation via the web.
“We are attempting to understand all options that may exist in this situation and I have asked Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department to stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.
An interdepartmental team has been working on the issue of foreclosure and how the City of Seattle can proactively connect residents to resources early in the process. I’ve pledged the City of Seattle’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015, and will launch a separate process to address homelessness and increase housing affordability in the months ahead, one of my visions toward making Seattle an affordable city.
In Washington State, we’ve seen recent victories such as the 2011 Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act, which I worked on closely, designed to help homeowners and their lenders explore alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution when possible. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders, using this and other alternatives in the work Seattle does on housing affordability.”
- See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/mayor-murrays-statement-on-barton-foreclosure/...
Meeting just outside the Mayor's office at City Hall, protestors for S.A.F.E. (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) held a press conference to ask that the City of Seattle stand down, and more precisely that Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council order the police to refrain from arresting Byron and Jean Barton. The Bartons were evicted from their home last week by King County Sheriff's deputies in accordance with an eviction notice from Triangle Properties LLC.
Protests at the home by S.A.F.E. members and others blocked authorities from taking the disabled Vietnam Veteran to the hospital (where he was offered shelter for 5 weeks), so he was put on the sidewalk, the locks changed on the home. Access was later gained to the home and he and others have chained themselves to his hospital bed hoping to prevent either eviction or arrest.
Police did visit the home and the Bartons were assured they would not be arrested (despite the fact that police say they are committing the crime of criminal trespassing), until such time as a determination could be made as to how to best serve everyone's rights in the matter.
Speaking on behalf of S.A.F.E. Joshua Sturman read the letter to the media:
"Byron Barton is a disabled Vietnam Veteran who has lived in his home at 6548 41st Ave. S.W. for 61 years. He has lived there since he was two years old. On April 11th, he and his wife, Jean has their home fraudulently foreclosed upon, and they now locked in a civil land dispute with Triangle Properties LLC. The ownership of the property is being disputed in state court. The Bartons should be allowed to remain in the home until the court has decided on this matter.
Triangle Properties is pressuring the authorities to evict the Barton family before the court has ruled. They have no right to do this. It would be criminal to see the Barton's house bulldozed while they are wating for the court to rule on who has legal ownership of the property. The Barton family and the members of Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction, SAFE, are here to call on Mayor Murray to prevent Seattle Police Department involvement in this matter until the courts can make their decision.
Jean Barton works part-time as a social worker, and spends the rest of her time as Byron's primary care giver. Byron Barton is unable to eat, drink or leave his bed due to a stroke he suffered from two years ago. He needs constant medical attention that is currently being provided for him in his house by his wife and children.. His care and living environment are in stable condition, but an eviction or trespassing arrest would be potentially life threatening. Byron should be allowed to stay in his house for his own health and safety.
We ask that you, Mayor Murray, immediately instruct Chief O'Toole to order the police not to participate in any eviction or trespassing arrest until the Court has made a decision regarding ownership of the property and all appeals are exhausted.
We also ask that you begin to discuses anti-foreclosure legislation with members of the City Council. We know that Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata, in particular, are eager to explore options which will keep Seattleites in their homes."
SAFE also later attended the Seattle City Council meeting and shared a letter expressing similar sentiments.
Attempts to reach Mohammed Daher of Triangle Properties LLC, seeking a statement or response to this matter were unsuccessful.
The Mayor's office indicated they would likely have a statement of some kind on this matter soon.