By Claudia Drdul
In early August two activists, Dayton Andrews and Max Goodwin, were arrested outside of Manny’s cafe and event forum on trumped up charges, including four felonies, while protesting the establishment’s gentrification of the Mission.
It was reported that after community bond funds paid for each protestor’s 75 thousand dollar bail, the charges against Andrews and Goodwin were dropped. But the truth is more complicated: the charges were set aside under a clause which allows the DA to refile charges before the expiration of the statute of limitations if they choose to do so.
In doing so, the SFPD are ensuring that the activists must look over their shoulders and cease any civil disobedience efforts for fear of arrest. This action by the police seems to come as a warning to all of the other protestors who have participated in the boycott of Manny’s since its establishment in 2018.
The SFPD has a long history of trampling the rights of activists within the city. In September of 2018, anti-police brutality activist Ilyich Sato was arrested after filming the SFPD using unreasonable force to detain youth on Valencia Street in the Mission. During San Francisco’s 2019 pride parade, two activists were arrested while ironically, protesting the police’s involvement in PRIDE after years of persecution of the LGBTQ+ community by the police themselves.
A video the Guardsman received of the altercation itself, showed a Manny’s patreon becoming increasingly violent after filming Goodwin with his iPhone alarmingly close to his face. Goodwin then steps away as the patron runs into the crowd of protestors- very clearly looking for a fight, and Andrews is seen trying to disperse the crowd away from the violent patron.
The group of protests have officially taken a stance against Manny Yekutiel after a facebook post of his went viral in 2018.
The Chronicle reported that Yekutiel quoted a New York Times article: “There are many reasons to celebrate [the anniversary of Israel], many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once barren land.”
Manny Yekutiel is a staunch Zionist.
Local organizations committed to fighting against bigotry like Gay Shame, Jews Against Zionism, and the Lucy Parsons Project, have all joined together to oppose the use of community land by Yekutiel.
In a statement on Gay Shame’s website, the organization says “Manny Yekutiel’s private prep school background and DC connections helped him raise money to open his for-profit wine bar with a supposed “social justice” mission. However, “social justice” is meaningless when Manny’s hosts events with pro-gentrification politicians like Scott Wiener, or a director of the $2,200-per-person Burning Man Festival.”
Manny’s, built on the ground floor of Mission Housing’s Maria Alicia Apartments, lies below dozens of low-income apartments, and as a for-profit, pays below-market rent amidst a serious housing crisis within the city. The space was one which many had hoped would become a community center run by those from the surrounding Latinx community, not one run by and attended by white silicon-valley gentrifiers.
Media coverage of this topic has not only been sparse, but has gravitated towards condemning the right to the protestors’ freedom of assembly, even some like Mission Local, stating that work against anti-Zionism is work against the right of the state of Israel to exist.
Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism is a way to justify the genocide and displacement of the Palestinian people and use of US taxpayer funds to do so. In order to understand the difference, it’s important to understand each individual concept.
In a 2019 opinion piece in the SF Chronicle, authors Margot Goldstein and Rachel Lederman differentiate between the two ideologies: “Anti-Semitism is a racist ideology that targets Jewish people because of their Jewish identity. Zionism is a racist ideology that supported the creation and maintenance of a settler-colonial state in Palestine. Anti-Zionists, including Jews, oppose the oppression and displacement of generations of Palestinian people.”
Founder Manny Yekutiel has a long standing history of representing capitalist entities as well, according to his LinkedIn page. While many of his previous endeavors revolve around civic engagement, they also promote the integration of business interests in social justice movements.
According to his linkedin page, from 2013 to 2015 he served as the chief of staff for FWD.us, a 501 lobbying group that was founded by billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Reed Hoffman. While the advocacy group appears to encourage positive immigration reform, the advocacy is actually for greater amounts of H1B or guest visas, where immigrants workers “are usually paid less than their pricey American counterparts, and are less likely to jump ship since they need to remain employed to stay in the country” according to a 2017 article written by Joel Kotkin.
He also worked as a real estate associate for a private development company, the Concord Group, from 2012 to 2013. San Francisco private developers have long histories of purchasing housing for below-market rates, housing that could be transitioned into low-income properties, and flipping it for millions as a way to ensure the working class be pushed out of their homes and into areas where the wealthy do not have to see the shortcomings of private industry.
Here’s my message to Yekutiel: if your social justice venue only attracts those with six figure salaries who spend millions on foreclosed apartments that families have been pushed out of, your venue is not one that should take the place of a community center in the heart of the historically working class Mission District.