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Police arrest Mission's anti-yuppie crusader

Emily Gurnon
  May 21, 1999

They say they found books on bomb-making

Police investigating a Mission District man who has been posting flyers around the neighborhood urging people to vandalize so-called yuppie vehicles and upscale restaurants said they found bomb-making manuals in his apartment.

But the man says he is innocent and his supporters say he is being targeted because of his political beliefs.

The suspect, whose last name is Keating, was arrested last Friday while he was pasting up the latest in a series of flyers by the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project, which Keating describes as an underground anarchist organization, Mission Station police Capt. Greg Suhr said. Keating was charged with making terrorist threats, but the charges have been dropped pending further investigation, police said.

Neither police nor Keating, who goes by the pseudonym Nestor Makhno, would disclose Keating's full name.

Keating was released from jail on Saturday. He said in a telephone interview that he is innocent.

"My attorneys know if we go to court we will completely trounce them," he said.

Suhr said police are going through "boxes and boxes and boxes" of evidence from Keating's apartment, including the recipe for making an acid bomb, as well as Keating's computer.

Anti-yuppie posters by the Yuppie Eradication Project began appearing in the Mission late last year. The latest posters, seen on various telephone polls, mailboxes and utility boxes around the Mission over the past two or three weeks, call for the destruction of four Mission District bars and restaurants.

"During the next major urban riots, we must attack and destroy the following yuppie bars and restaurants in the Mission," the flyer reads, in caustic but intelligent prose. It lists the Beauty Bar - described as "neighborhood enemy number one," Tokyo Go-Go, Blowfish Sushi and Circadia, a Starbucks coffee shop.

"Be creative. Take action. Don't get caught," the flyers advise.

"That really made me nervous, because people can kind of take that to heart and really do s- -," said Aaron Buhrz, co-owner of the Beauty Bar, a seven-month-old bar at Mission and 19th streets with a beauty salon theme that offers manicures and professional make-overs along with drinks.

"In this neighborhood, they can and they will," he said.

Earlier posters urged people to vandalize "yuppie" cars, such as sport utility vehicles, by keying them and slashing their tires - letting their owners know they aren't welcome in the Mission.

In the two or three weeks since the latest posters appeared, none of the four targeted restaurants has been harmed, although all experienced vandalism in the months prior to that, their owners said. Buhrz, 28, said the Beauty Bar was tagged some time ago with graffiti that read, "Leave the Mission or else." Ken Lowe, owner of Tokyo Go-Go, said his restaurant was plastered several months ago with about two dozen signs that read, "Target the yuppies," with a picture of a bull's eye.

None understood why their restaurants - which they view as a plus for the neighborhood - would be seen as a threat.

"All these merchants down here are normal people, and for people to say negative things about us without knowing who we are - I was bummed," Lowe, 35, said.

Blowfish Sushi is described in the anti-yuppie posters as a place that "brings rich pigs to the Mission and offers nothing to working and poor people here."

Its owner, Jason Teplitsky, said he viewed the flyers as a prank by "a few loose cannons."

"It obviously makes you angry that people so misunderstand what is happening in the world that they would think that actions such as the ones they're proposing would solve any of the problems or would even be relevant to the cause that they're perpetrating," said Teplitsky, a native of the Ukraine - the same region the original Nestor Makhno, an anarchist, lived earlier this century.

"Just because people have money does not necessarily mean they are evil," said Teplitsky, 30, who insists he had no intention of abandoning his location.

Keating's supporters said he would not make bombs, would not harm people and is being targeted because of his anarchist beliefs.

"(The police) took all his books," said James Tracy of the Mission-based Eviction Defense Network, who has known Keating for 10 years. "They basically confiscated anything that was Marxist or anarchist."

The man he calls a friend is a "passionate, caring individual" who has gone on record saying that he does not advocate hurting people, Tracy said. "He's going after the property, not the people."

But the real issue is not Keating, Tracy said.

"The Mission Yuppie Eradication Project's efforts are a symbol of a lot of long-term residents' frustration with the parasitic institutions, and the fear that goes along with knowing that you and your loved ones are being pushed from the neighborhood," said Tracy, whose organization works to help tenants displaced through mass evictions or hotel fires.

"The issue is the fact that people under a certain income level are not going to be able to live in The City after too long. Poor people and the working class are just going to be out."

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