Update 6/18: After this column published, a former employee of Jason Perkins came forward to ID him as the man spreading the threatening fliers. To read the update, click here. The original column is posted below.
An anonymous Twitter user has let fly accusations against Jason Perkins, the owner of San Francisco’s Brick and Mortar Music Hall and previous owner of the New Parish in Oakland. To hear it told, Perkins pepper sprayed homeless man and littered a homeless encampment near a South of Market skate park with flyers threatening to burn it down.
“ATTN JUNKIE MOTHER FUCKERS … WE are SICK of watching you leave needles in our park, shitting in our park and STEALING AND THIEVING from children and innocent people in the Park,” the flyers left on tents on Feb. 9 read, which continued “IF YOU ARE STILL HERE AFTER DARK TONIGHT, the hunters will become the hunted. We will pound you, burn you, beat you, and fuck you up if you are within a 100 yards of this park starting after sun down tonight.”
That night, people living in tents along the skate park in South of Market fled, afraid for their lives. The San Francisco Police Department has not reported making any arrest in connection with the threat, although it is under investigation.
Thursday, however, Twitter user @nysrene released surveillance video from Brick and Mortar showing a homeless man from the SoMa encampment, named Cory, attacking a car with a baseball bat. In that video, a man that @nysrene alleges is Perkins comes out with hands forward, like he is holding a gun, and chases Cory away. That video was retweeted more than 200 times as of Thursday afternoon.
The Twitter user alleges that video ties Perkins to the scene of the threatening flyers — and Cory, the homeless man, previously said the man who distributed the threatening flyers is the same man who pepper-sprayed him in the face and threatened him with “a gun.”
The New Parish and Brick and Mortar are well-respected venues. Perkins said he finalized a deal to sell his share in the New Parish just this month.
So is the man in the surveillance video Perkins? And, separately, is Perkins the person who threatened to pound, burn and beat the homeless?
Perkins for his part confirmed to me he is the man in the video, but denied distributing the threatening flyers.
“When the guy came and ran at me, he struck as I was getting in my car. He hit my window with a bat,” Perkins told me by phone. “I pulled out mace and I maced him.” Perkins alleged that the man had attacked him multiple times previously.
I reported on the pepper spray incident in February, as did KPIX Channel 5, who interviewed the man living in a tent by the skatepark who was maced, Cory.
“I could not believe it. He sprayed me right in the face, right through my tent, right on me, then he smiled and kind of laughed and walked away,” Cory told KPIX. The reporter, Da Lin, took video of the tent and noted “on the tent you can still see the stains from the spray.”
So Cory pretty explicitly linked the pepper spray incident to the flyers, although he left out the part about the bat. He acknowledged that after being attacked in the face with pepper spray he got in “an argument” with the man, who we now know to be Perkins. Perkins then pulled out what Cory called a “gun.”
Perkins sent me a text message photo of his pepper-spray device, which is black and shaped like a gun, replete with barrel and handle.
But while he denies writing the threatening fliers and posting them to tents, Perkins has a history of going on diatribes against homeless people.
Perkins fired off an email to Supervisor Hillary Ronen, the SFPD and numerous city staffers the day of the pepper spray incident, which I obtained in a public records request, where he said he tried to “stop a junkie from stealing a kids skateboard” and a “junkie attacked me with a bat” and “I WATCHED a guy break into 2 cars today and then strolled back to his tent.” He continued, “You have to do something!! My family has been in SF for EIGHT generations and I own 11 businesses and employ over a hundred people and you know? My wife wants us to leave as the city as soon as possible.”
The frequent use of all-caps throughout the email bears some similarities to the threatening flyer. And in a Facebook post Perkins wrote which was screen-captured by the East Bay Express, Perkins wrote “I’m so so sick of the thieving junkie motherfuckers in SF.”
The flyer threatening to burn homeless people started with “ATTN JUNKIE MOTHER FUCKERS.”
I pointed out the similarities between Perkins’ diatribes and the threatening flyer to Perkins.
His answer: “Is it coincidence? I didn’t hear about (the flyer) until a day later. I never saw that (flyer) until after this incident happened.”
Whatever he did or didn’t do, and if the SFPD ever acts, it may be moot soon: Perkins confirmed he plans to move out of the country with his family, soon.
To read the Tweet where an anonymous Twitter user ID’s Perkins as the attacker, click here.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.