(SCROLL DOWN FOR THE LATEST: Evicted couple back inside as of late afternoon)
9:26 AM: Numerous texts are coming in asking about what sounds like a protest somewhere in Morgan Junction. It’s an eviction protest at a Morgan/lower Gatewood home where local activists are hoping to stop sheriff’s deputies from forcing a disabled veteran, his wife, and children to leave. Public records indicate their house had been sold to a developer in April after being foreclosed on. The advocacy group had advised us and other news media of a 10 am protest and 10:30 am news conference today; apparently it has started early, and we’re on the way over. Updates to come.
9:56 AM: Our crew at the scene says deputies are there evicting the family from the house in the 6500 block of 41st SW. An ambulance is there, apparently to transport 63-year-old Byron Barton, but protesters are trying to stop the ambulance from moving – including by lying under it:
We’re adding Instagram video clips (the service limits to :15 but is the fastest way to get video out) as well as photos. The eviction action was postponed from last month, according to citywide-media reports including this one from KING.
10:05 AM: Our crew reports that sheriffs say everyone in the house is out.
Jean Barton made a brief statement that her husband does not want to go to the VA hospital but has nowhere else to go.
Seattle Police have arrived.
10:26 AM: So has City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
The original announcement received yesterday had said she would participate in the 10:30 am briefing, which the group SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) has said they still expect to hold.
11:05 AM: No briefing after all – Byron Barton was removed from the ambulance, and it has left, our crew at the scene reports. The family remains out of the house and there’s no word yet where they will go. A commenter asked if any help was needed; Jean Barton says Byron’s clothes are all in the house so that’s the kind of thing they need – she can be reached directly at 206-355-8300. She works, by the way, at Mary’s Place – an agency that helps homeless women. We’ve been looking into court files; the Bartons filed a lawsuit in May alleging various improprieties in the foreclosure process, which documents indicate has been ongoing since at least 2012. Trustee Quality Loan Service is listed as the firm that sold the house to Triangle Property Development LLC in April.
11:44 AM: Family and activists still there, our crew reports, and just gave a briefing, at which Councilmember Sawant spoke as well, but deputies and most of the police (and most of the rest of the media) are gone.
12:35 PM: Adding the briefing video as soon as it’s uploaded. We’ve been continuing to review court documents and other public records related to all this. The property’s owner as of the April foreclosure auction, Triangle Development, filed the “unlawful detainer” (eviction) suit against the Bartons in May, around the same time they filed the suit alleging the foreclosure was illegal. There is no development proposal for the site yet, by the way, but we note that county records show the house is on a double lot – 9,000 square feet and legally two lots, which likely means two homes could be built on it.
3:33 PM: We went by about an hour ago (en route to something else) and nobody was out on the street – two TV vehicles in evidence, though. One commenter says KIRO is reporting the family got back into the house. We asked KCSO spokesperson Sgt. DB Gates if they plan to go back. Not at the moment, she said, and offered more background, since KCSO is the enforcement agency for evictions anywhere in King County. According to Sgt. Gates, since an earlier incident in which a detective declined to serve the eviction papers, they have met with the Bartons multiple times and warned them that what happened today was going to happen – but the Bartons decided to stay anyway. Gates also says that the family is “not destitute,” and that they are getting “almost six figures” from the auction price, even though they did not initiate the auction, because the winning bid was so much more than what was owed on the house.
5:26 PM: We came back to the neighborhood to see what was going on and discovered that the Bartons are indeed back inside, in the basement, where Jean says Byron is chained to a bed:
That’s longtime friend Cheryl with them. Seattle Police are out on the street but won’t say what their plan is – they say a public-information officer is coming to speak to media (two TV crews are here doing live reports).
6 PM: SPD Captain Dave Proudfoot (South Precinct captain) is here to supervise – he says their first priority is checking Byron Barton’s health/medical status. Jean Barton says he’ll be OK at least until later tonight.
6:15 PM: New precinct liaison from the city attorney’s office Matthew York has been here since before we re-arrived. He is talking with a lawyer for the Bartons. Three of the SPD units that were here have left.
6:24 PM: It appears nothing more will happen here tonight, or so the police indicate. Meantime, the home’s new owner has commented on this story, saying she does not intend to tear down the house.