By Kiyomi Casey
Members of the Little Tokyo community gathered on Sunday, Dec. 10, to protest the eviction of Suehiro Cafe, a local restaurant that has been serving the community since 1972.
Landlord Tony Sperl issued an eviction notice earlier this year, proposing to replace the restaurant with a marijuana dispensary. Protesters convened at the Little Tokyo metro station, marched onto 1st Street, and gathered in front of Suehiro.
“We are drawing connections between this eviction and numerous other instances of displacement in our community,” said Sheryl Quock, an organizer with Jtown Action and Solidarity, to AsAmNews.
The coalition, which also includes the Japanese American Citizens League and Save Our Seniors Network introduced a pledge to boycott stores deemed responsible for gentrifying the neighborhood.
“Little Tokyo is a very special place to a lot of people. And we’re just trying to preserve that sort of feeling here in this community.” said Zen Sekizawa, also with Jtown Action. Sekizawa expressed concern about the community’s gradual decline, a sentiment echoed by others.
“When I witness changes like this, I’m disheartened because we don’t want to lose the soul of Japanese America.” said Richard Kato, a protestor who grew up visiting Little Tokyo in the 60s and 70s.
Little Tokyo is one of three Japantowns remaining in California, and the community wants to preserve what’s left. Quock explained that the community is prepared to put up a fight against gentrification at every stage of the process. Suehiro Cafe is set to close on Jan. 9, 2024.
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