J-Town Action と Solidarity is a grassroots collective dedicated to revolutionary organizing & building community power in Little Tokyo.


J-Town Action と Solidarity is a grassroots collective dedicated to revolutionary organizing & building community power in Little Tokyo.

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Little Tokyo Against Gentrification  / LTAG

Killer Cop Landlord Evicts Suehiro

Sign the Little Tokyo Community Boycott Pledge

Join Our Picket Line 

This fight has come to a head with the illegal eviction of one of the oldest restaurants in Little Tokyo, Suehiro Cafe.

We must stop killer cop and slumlord heir, Anthony Sperl’s scheme to warp Little Tokyo into “something that resembles Melrose.”

Little Tokyo is one of the last Japantowns in the country, with our community shrinking each day at the hands of gentrification and the violent policing that enforces it. The developers, landlords, and corrupt politicians are stealing Little Tokyo from right beneath our feet. We are surrounded by LAPD headquarters, Dept of Homeland Security, and Men’s Central Jail. Every corner is swarming with private security and Business Improvement District goons, while the Koban hides an LAPD substation under the guise of its label as a “Visitor Center.” Now with the Metro Regional Connector opening, the policing and violence will continue to escalate.

The struggle within our community is very real. Historic First Street North has survived multiple waves of displacement and redevelopment, including the WWII Japanese Amerikan incarceration in concentration camps. Today we continue to be held hostage by the developers and landlords as they bring skyrocketing rents that are once again forcing us out of our own community.

LTAG is a united front organization including: J-Town Action と Solidarity | Save Our Seniors Network | Greater Los Angeles JACL

Suehiro Cafe opened in Little Tokyo in 1972. More than ten years ago, owner Kenji Suzuki asked his landlord Tony Sperl to renew Suehiro’s long-term lease. Sperl repeatedly told Kenji that he was working on renewing it, only for Sperl to change his mind in 2014 when Metro began constructing a new regional connector in Little Tokyo. Kenji kept paying his rent month-to-month, while Sperl in 2018 quietly filed permits to establish a marijuana dispensary.    

In 2022, Sperl nearly doubled the rent. Kenji kept mailing his checks, but Sperl refused to cash them, instead filing for eviction in March 2023 on the false claim that Kenji wasn’t paying rent. Sperl withdrew his original false suit in June, but he refused to extend Suehiro’s lease and ultimately evicted them in January 2024.

Sperl has been saying that he wants Little Tokyo to transform into a place like Melrose Avenue. Paperwork filed back in 2018 and 2019 indicates (see below) has it he wants to bring in a marijuana dispensary. If left unchecked, landlords and developers like Tony Sperl have the power to completely reshape or “gentrify” Little Tokyo. That’s why we’re pledging to boycott the next business Sperl brings in to replace Suehiro unless he starts listening to the interests of our community, and why we’ll be picketing in front of his building every Saturday to show Sperl or any other potential gentrifiers that we’re serious.

Tokyo Greens LLC Application (2018)

Tokyo Greens Cannabis License Application Details (2019)

We've sent Sperl our boycott pledge and asked him to meet with the Little Tokyo community before setting up any new business in Suehiro's place, but we've heard nothing but silence in return. We want a formal commitment from Sperl that he won’t bring a dispensary to 1st Street North. If Sperl won't listen to our community, then he has no right to do business in our community.

Our community is disappearing before our very eyes. Another long-standing community business, Little Tokyo Arts & Gifts, received an eviction notice in January 2024. Mark Falcone and Continuum Partners' incoming Cold Storage luxury development on 4th and Central threatens to fundamentally reshape our neighborhood. Kenji Suzuki, owner of Suehiro Cafe, has said that he wants to return to Little Tokyo some day. But if we don't start fighting back against predatory landlords and developers, there won't be a Little Tokyo for Kenji to come back to.

Join our boycott and weekly picket, and let's show every predatory landlord and/or developer in Little Tokyo that we won't let them gentrify our community!

Link to JAS Twitter Thread

Link to LA Times Article

Link to LA Public Press Article