An attorney for Ridley-Thomas sent a cease and desist letter to L.A. City Council District 10 candidate Grace Yoo for a website set up in the name of her opponent—Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas— to spread allegations and misinformation. The attorney labeled the website as “cybersquatting,” which is the act of reserving — with ill intent — domain names similar to or identical to trademarked names.
“By setting up (the website), you have intentionally prevented our client from registering a website domain name in his own personal name,” the letter from attorney Stephen Kaufman said. “And, by illegally setting up this website, you have confused and lured unsuspecting members of the public who were seeking to access online information from our client to your own fraudulent website in order to assault them with false and defamatory statements about Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.”
The move comes on the heels of the L.A. Times endorsing Ridley-Thomas over Yoo, stating: “Voters would have a hard time finding another candidate with Ridley-Thomas’ experience and knowledge or his long list of accomplishments. His perspective will be especially helpful as the council grapples with how to reimagine policing in L.A.”
Yoo, who said that she would not be “bullied and intimidated” into shutting the site down, says she put up the website to inform voters about “some information his campaign is not talking about” in a move that Ridley Thomas’ team. On the website, Yoo mentions a USC bribery scandal allegedly involving the supervisor, his desire to run for L.A. mayor in 2022 and alleges that the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation (AAVREP), which was established in 2000 by Ridley-Thomas, has not spent most of its money on actually registering voters, amongst other things.
Several community leaders were quick to comment on Yoo’s allegations – specifically regarding AAVREP.
Susan Burton, executive director of New Way of Life and an advocate of AAVREP, says Yoo’s allegations are based on a selective reading of the organization’s expenditure reports, which do not reflect the full extent of its grassroot outreach efforts.
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Yoo is denigrating a widely respected organization that helps register, educate and mobilize Black and minority voters each election cycle,” said Burton.
Gene Hale, Chairman of Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, said that “founding AAVREP has been one of the hallmarks of Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ career.”
“He has fought long and hard alongside us to overcome the political disenfranchisement of the African American community. Under his leadership, AAVREP has registered more black voters than any other organization in California,” Hale explained. “Yoo’s attack on AAVREP’s integrity and impact is an affront to the African American community. It is truly unfortunate and clearly out of step with the needs and wishes of LA residents.”
Rev. William Smart, President of SCLC of Southern California, said that Yoo’s allegations do not consider the impact that AAVREP has through its affiliated groups. He also said that the criticism doesn’t recognize that before people are registered to vote, it’s necessary to educate them and build networks through faith-based and civic organizations to reach them.
“AAVREP’s efforts and accomplishments have never been more important than today, as we see Donald Trump and others on his side of the political aisle working overtime to suppress the Black vote. They know that the Black vote is going to be a key to the future of our country and the future of Los Angeles,” Rev. Smart explained.
The cease-and-desist letter states that if Yoo’s campaign does not remove the website immediately, legal action will be sought.