Jean Barton arrives at rally but has not spoken yet. pic.twitter.com/4d4eHMHwGE
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) August 18, 2014
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Jean Barton never did speak at the downtown rally called by housing-justice activists as a followup to the Friday arrests that removed her, her disabled husband, and one of their sons from the Morgan Junction house they long owned, as their foreclosure/eviction fight continues.
The activists, led by the group SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction), gathered this afternoon in Courthouse Park, to which they’d summoned the media; we were there along with regional-TV crews. While they engaged in chants denouncing King County Sheriff John Urquhart for the Friday arrests, Jean Barton arrived on the sidelines, and reporters/photographers converged.
She basically had a news conference steps away from where the advocates continued to shout and chant. She said that husband Byron Barton remains at the Seattle VA Hospital, but she wasn’t sure where she would be staying tonight, as she had been put up in a hotel for a few days but that was ending.
She also said, “As far as I am concerned, it is still our home.” Her lawyer explained that their lawsuit alleging illegal foreclosure (90-page PDF) continues to go through the courts, as does their appeal of the “unlawful detainer” complaint that resulted in their original official eviction exactly one month ago.
It was then announced via bullhorn that the protest would move over to the courthouse next door, where the KCSO is headquartered. Demonstrators marched back and forth in front of its 3rd Avenue entrances, while Jean Barton went inside to request a one-on-one meeting with the sheriff, who, as you can hear in our video, wasn’t there, she was told:
KCSO is charged with carrying out eviction orders regardless of whether they are in the jurisdiction of an agency such as the Seattle Police Department. After they evicted the Bartons on July 18th, the couple went back inside the house. SPD arrived on the scene and could have arrested them for alleged trespassing but did not; the following Monday, Mayor Murray announced he had asked SPD to “stand by” while the case played out in court.
After that, the company that bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, Triangle Property Development, went to court to seek a “writ of mandamus” which would have ordered the city to take action. Last week, King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman denied that request, saying it would have been an extraordinary action to order the city to do something in which it had discretion, while, she said, Triangle had other avenues available for getting possession of the house.
Then last Friday, KCSO showed up at the Morgan Junction house and carried out a search warrant it had obtained, signed by Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert, citing grounds that it had evidence a crime – trespassing – was happening in the house, and swept in around 8 am, arresting and removing the Bartons. Representatives of Triangle promptly occupied the house, saying they were readying it for a renter who would move in quickly. Byron Barton was reported to have been shuttled between the VA Hospital and Harborview before winding up at the former, and that brings us to what unfolded today. What’s next? We’ll continue watching court files, among other sources, to see.