George Yu, executive director for life of the Chinatown Business Improvement District, is well-known for his defiance of the law in BID-related matters. For instance, he has utterly refused to participate in a lawsuit brought against the BID to enforce the California Public Records Act.1 And he cannot keep his mouth shut about his outlaw proclivities, like for instance last year at a BID board meeting he announced that he had broken the law by spending BID money on harassing homeless human beings outside the boundaries of the BID.2
So, you know, I went to today’s meeting expecting more of the usual George Yu crapola. But what actually happened was far, far more important than the stuff on the agenda. During the section of the meeting on public safety, long-time Chinatown residents Zen Sekizawa and Mario Correa had a few things to say to Yu and to the public at large about multiple attacks on them by George Yu and, at his direction and with his support, the BID’s off-the-chain security forces. I filmed the whole meeting, of course, and you can download a copy here from Archive.Org or watch it here on YouTube. The chaos starts at 23:19
And unhoused Chinatown resident Theo Henderson was there as well. And as George Yu’s desperate and pathetic verbal attacks on Sekizawa and Correa escalated, Henderson gave a fiery speech putting Yu’s lies in the context of his own experience. George Yu has beset Henderson for years, marshaling the LAPD, the City Attorney, and his own BID security forces against him, and Henderson called him out for the world to hear:
It’s been a fluff piece about how great this gentleman is, however, what I have understood is that he has an antipathy against unhoused people. He calls them bums. He stalks. He surveils. He does everything in his power to make it uncomfortable. I am the gentleman that was on that quality of life issue the previous meeting. So I decided to come and have my side of the story because obviously this [unintelligible] has been posted everywhere. I have heard several different crazy stories. If I had not known it was about me I would be understandably afraid. So let us not excuse his behavior and try to de-escalate or invalidate these people’s concerns. These are legitimate. These are homeowners. These are community members. I have been a community member. I have lived over here over ten years before I became unhoused. So I have as much of a right as anybody else in here. He doesn’t even live here. He lives way out in some gated community. So this is the issue that community members that sit here and listen to him and hang on to his every word need to understand. We do not want him or his business improvement district employees here. He is a terrorist to people that are working class, an elitist, and an outright bully. And it is unacceptable. I am tired of it, and I want the community to understand and to do something about it.
George Yu did not like what he heard. Not. At. All. George Yu argued, accused, tried to derail, and when he could not shut down the flow of truth, adjourned the meeting unexpectedly and rose out of his chair in anger and walked aggressively toward Theo Henderson, another member of the public giving comment. This is a turning point in the history of this BID, maybe of all BIDs in Los Angeles. George Yu has long been unhinged, but now he’s decompensating.
Evidently he can no longer disguise his mental illness, his intermittent explosive disorder. He is exposing himself to the world now, to his masters in the City government, and it’s not pretty. It’s quite possibly George Yu’s have-you-no-sense-of-decency moment, the beginning of the end for him. Perhaps this is that will force the City, as complicit as it has been in the privatized violence perpetrated on its behalf by BIDs, to acknowledge that its BID program is essentially welfare for psychopaths, that it is no longer sustainable, if only as a matter of public relations. Read on for a transcription of the entire episode.
Zen Sekizawa: We tried to get on the agenda today but I didn’t get a response back. We have a couple safety concerns that I’m sure you’re more than aware of. We were harassed and threatened by one of your B.I.D. officers and then attacked…
George Yu [interrupting and talking over Zen]: Zen, I think you know that’s not the facts, and I was [unintelligible] not the appropriate forum. This is a pending litigation and so why don’t we…
Mario Correa: [unintelligible] … I wrote an email to George Yu asking him to remove this officer from our area. We live on Chung King Road as well, but… he was around our neighbor’s gardens, I asked him what he was doing, he didn’t like it, he got belligerent with me, followed me home …
George Yu [interrupting and talking over Mario] This was …
Taiji Miyagawa: Stop interrupting, George. Let them talk. They’re residents of Chinatown.
Mario Correa: We have video of this …
George Yu [interrupting and talking over Mario to Taiji]: Don’t talk to me that way.
Mario Correa: We have video of this guard following me home, camping out in front of our place, and threatening us. This happened multiple times. We reported this to George Yu. Instead of acting — well, he did act, by refusing our request to have this guy stay away. And he actually increased patrols in front of our house. We have documents of all of this. Guards are in front of our place at seven thirty in the morning doing radio checks with their walkies. Intimidating us. And it came to a head on the 16th when this particular guard was out again, Gabriel Guerrero. There was a confrontation. I ended up getting pepper sprayed, batonned, handcuffed by LAPD when they came. And George Yu and the security guards told them the story before they came to our place.
Zen Sekizawa: We called 911 first.
Mario Correa: Our neighbors have been great. I know that you’ve received letters from our neighbors echoing our request to keep this guard far away from our homes. We’ve gotten no response so we decided to come to this meeting.
George Yu: You’ve had multiple response.
Zen Sekizawa: Not from you. And Gabriel Guerrero was also on duty the very next day after this attack.
George Yu: We also have a police report we can share. The incident happened on July 10th. I immediately went by your place of residence because I did not know who you were. I didn’t put two and two together…
Mario Correa: I’ve been in Chinatown for 17 years, on Chung King Road for 11. We’ve met before.
Zen Sekizawa: Yeah, we’ve met before. [unintelligible] not know who we are is false.
George Yu: Okay and then I went by. You emailed. I emailed you back. I offered to meet. You did not take me up on the offer to meet. Everything I wrote you turned into something else that was more antagonistic. On the 13th, in the afternoon, you approached a B.I.D. officer and threatened B.I.D. officer Guerrero that he will get hurt.
Mario Correa: That’s not true either…
[unintelligible multiple speakers]
George Yu: On the 16th the police report noted that you threw a bucket of water on Officer Guerrero.
Mario Correa: After repeated harassment, intimidation…
Zen Sekizawa: And he was trespassing on our property after we told him not to come to our property because we felt threatened.
Mario Correa: You all can see George Yu’s response.
Zen Sekizawa: Yeah.
George Yu: It’s all well-documented. Let’s just see. You guys can take it up with AUS3 and with us.
Mario Correa: With the Police Commission, AUS, and the LAPD. We’re not surprised to hear…
George Yu [interrupting]: And you took the B.I.D. phone and the only [unintelligible]
Zen Sekizawa: [unintelligible] B.I.D. phone…
Mario Correa: There was a fight. And [unintelligible]
George Yu: Did you have the B.I.D. phone in your possession? [unintelligible] LAPD Officer McCains [??] retrieved the B.I.D. phone from your place of residence. [unintelligible] You deleted the texts. [unintelligible] that you deleted from the phone. This’ll all come out…[unintelligible]
Zen Sekizawa: [unintelligible] in this whole situation.
George Yu: By offering to meet.
Zen Sekizawa: No, by having the guard not be in front of our house.
Unidentified interlocutor: [Some irrelevant bullshit]
Zen Sekizawa: Yeah, we tried to get on the agenda, obviously…[unintelligible]
Theo Henderson: [unintelligible] …going on. It’s been a fluff piece about how great this gentleman is, however, what I have understood is that he has an antipathy against unhoused people. He calls them bums. He stalks. He surveils. He does everything in his power to make it uncomfortable. I am the gentleman that was on that quality of life issue the previous meeting. So I decided to come and have my side of the story because obviously this [unintelligible] has been posted everywhere. I have heard several different crazy stories. If I had not known it was about me I would be understandably afraid. So let us not excuse his behavior and try to de-escalate or invalidate these people’s concerns. These are legitimate. These are homeowners. These are community members. I have been a community member. I have lived over here over ten years before I became unhoused. So I have as much of a right as anybody else in here. He doesn’t even live here. He lives way out in some gated community. So this is the issue that community members that sit here and listen to him and hang on to his every word need to understand. We do not want him or his business improvement district employees here. He is a terrorist to people that are working class, an elitist, and an outright bully. And it is unacceptable. I am tired of it, and I want the community to understand and to do something about it.
George Yu: Are you still living at Alpine?
Theo Henderson: No, I am not.
George Yu: You’re not? Where’s your mountain of stuff?
Theo Henderson: My mountain of stuff is irrelevant to the conversation at hand. What is relevant is your behavior and your staff harassing unhoused people, unhoused residents [unintelligible] Who the hell do you think that you can judge anybody and tell them where they cannot be? As long as I fought for this country while you sat on your behind and sat around harassing unhoused people you have no right to tell me or anybody else where we should be. I have a constitutional right just like everybody else.
George Yu: Do I hear a motion to adjourn the meeting?
Zen Sekizawa: Nice response, George. This is exactly the response we got when we [unintelligible] Great executive functioning, George.
George Yu: The meeting is over. The public section is over. You guys are separate and apart from the B.I.D. meeting. You guys are now welcome to leave.
Taiji Miyagawa: Or stay. It’s a public meeting, correct?
George Yu: No, you’re not. The meeting is over.
Taiji Miyagawa: It’s a public meeting.
George Yu: The meeting is over.
Taiji Miyagawa: The B.I.D.’s a public entity.
George Yu: The meeting is over and you guys are out. You guys need to leave. Now you’re on private property. My private property.
Mario Correa: What does private property matter when you won’t restrict a guard from coming on to our property?
Theo Henderson: Or privatize public spaces?
George Yu: [unintelligible] … or you and him stick fighting?
Mario Correa: So what? So what?
- Which is why, just the day before yesterday, we won the damn suit. I will write about this soon but more urgent matters keep arising. You can read the judge’s final ruling here. Orders are forthcoming but they’re not out yet.
- Sadly, ironically, it does not seem to be illegal for BIDs to spend their money on harassing homeless human beings per se. They seem to be allowed to harass as many homeless human beings as they want, as much as they want to harass them. They are, however, explicitly forbidden from harassing homeless human beings, or doing anything whatsoever, outside the boundaries of their damnable BIDs, by the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36625(a)(6), which states unequivocally that: The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district … So yeah, BIDs, the legislature says you can harass away! As long as you only harass within your boundaries!
- This is Allied Universal Security, who is the BID’s security vendor.