When John Loper was banished from the sidewalk at 701 7th Ave. in front of the Bank of America, it didn't appear there was much he could do. Loper had sold Real Change at that location for more than five years, but when a bank manager told police Loper had aggressively panhandled near an ATM, an officer told the Real Change vendor that he would be arrested if he came within a block of the bank over the following year.
Such citations are often issued, with no provision for appeal, at police discretion. University of Washington professor Katherine Beckett, author of Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America, estimates that approximately 10,000 such banishment orders are issued each year in Seattle.
Within the following three months, Loper alleges that the officer that issued the order threatened him twice more with arrest. That's when the Real Change vendor sought legal assistance.
Attorney Joseph Schaeffer of the Seattle law firm MacDonald Hoague & Bayless filed a federal suit to challenge Loper's no trespass order. This month, a settlement was reached regarding Loper vs. City of Seattle that ends the common practice of sidewalk banishment and delivers a $28,000 cash settlement to the Real Change vendor.
SPD has issued a "training reminder" to officers that states the "Private Property Trespass Admonishment program does not apply to public rights-of-way. Officers are not authorized under this program to ... exclude a person from any public-right-of-way including sidewalks.