SEATTLE — A disabled Vietnam veteran and his family are facing eviction from their West Seattle home, but a local organization is stepping in to try to help them keep it.
Seattle police and the King County Sheriff’s Office tried to physically remove disabled Navy veteran Byron Barton from his home last Friday, but they gave up that day in the face of an overwhelming protest.
The Barton family has been told to leave the home, but they are in the middle of a lawsuit against the lending company, claiming fraud and misrepresentation. So they are trying to stay put until all legal issues are settled.
“It’s just scary not knowing, especially this week, not knowing when the police are going to show up,” said Byron’s wife, Jean Barton.
Byron suffered a massive stroke about three years ago.
“They put a stent in his heart, which threw a blood clot to his brain and caused a severe stroke,” Jean said.
Byron was left paralyzed on his left side.
“He needs 24/7 care,” she said. “I mean, he can walk a little bit, enough to get to the bathroom, but his balance is so fragile, he has to have a belt on him. We have to hold him…”
On Friday, the sheriff’s office tried to force the couple from their home.
Jean chained herself to Byron’s bed.
“It started off that my girlfriend and I, we chained him to the bed and chained ourselves to him, to keep them from taking him out,” Jean said.
Protesters from a Seattle nonprofit organization called SAFE blocked an ambulance from taking Byron away.
“These wonderful young people put themselves in harm’s way and blockaded the ambulance by putting their bodies underneath the tires,” she said.
The police gave up that day. But Jean fears the worst if her husband is taken away.
“The fear was that he was going to go to a nursing home, and that’s still where my fear is — is that we won’t be able to find a house that will accommodate us or our entire family and that he`ll end up going to a nursing home,” Jean said.
Members of SAFE remain on the Bartons’ property to protect the family — but they do have another ally.
City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant says she supports the couple — and SAFE held a protest outside Mayor Ed Murray’s office demanding that the city leave the family alone.
After the meeting with the protesters, Murray said he had told the Seattle police to “stand by” in this case until the Bartons’ legal case is resolved.