After more than nine hours, during which the commissioners heard public comment and considered almost 80 amendments, Grace Yoo entered the following Closing Public Comment:
Commissioners: You certainly showed your commitment, diligence and endurance this evening having spent nearly 9 hours plowing through 80 adjustments.
Unfortunately, I can’t help but be cynical as to tonight’s true intentions and motive. I can’t help but question why the technical map drawing in real-time was not provided. Was it to keep the commissioners actions and all their ripple effects hidden so they didn’t know what they were agreeing to so that any conflict can be resolved by only a few people instead of the full commission?
The lack of transparency in this entire process has been disheartening. And tonight’s action of not providing real-time map changes with population adjustments visible for everyone to see and understand and make informed decisions is not surprising as informed decisions are not welcome. Decisions made in a vacuum on the other hand are welcome because it creates opportunities for issues to arise that will be settled by less than the full commission.
Back to Redistricting
The API community use this day for expressing love and appreciation to show the LA City Council that we appreciate their hard work, and remind them that we expect them to address our needs, too! This is a historic moment, one of the first times the Asian American, Pacific American, and Pacific Islander American communities will have come out to City Hall to voice their opinions en masse.
Please join us at 9:15 AM as parking and security screening at City Hall tends to take about half an hour. We anticipate being heard by 10AM and out of Council Chambers by 10:15AM.
See you tomorrow!
UPDATE: API community leaders including Hyepin Im (KCCD), Mariko Kahn (A3PCON), Chancee Martorell (Thai CDC), Alex Cha (KADC), and Anthony Park (Council of Korean Churches in Southern California) spoke at the LA City Council Meeting on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. KAC executive director Grace Yoo shared fresh leis with the councilmembers to celebrate Valentine's Day. Many API community members attended the meeting to show the councilmembers that they are paying attention.
LOCATION: LA City Hall
John Ferraro Council Chambers
200 N. Spring Street, Room 340
Join us on Facebook
You can support KAC by helping the Asian Pacific Community Fund connect to LAUSD students, teachers and administrators. By doing so, the Asian Pacific Community Fund can share information about the campaign, donation opportunities, and how to support our network of 29 agencies. Your sharing will bring hope to the 250,000 people APCF Affiliates serve annually.
For more information and how to get involved, please contact our Development Manager, Kristin Cheung at email@example.com or at 213-624-6400 Ext. 8.
A new group has formed in South Dallas called “Don’t Stop, Don’t Shop” or “Stop Don't Shop," which has protested in front of the Korean-owned MLK Boulevard Diamond Shamrock and Kwik Stop store since December 26, 2011. The group began its activity in this location allegedly in reaction to an argument between the owner of the gas station, Tommy Pak, and customer Minister Jeffrey Muhammad.
On Dec. 11, 2011, Muhammad, a student minister at a Nation of Islam Mosque, entered Pak’s store, just two blocks south of the mosque. Muhammad claims that he came in, did not shout and calmly asked for five dollars in gas. Muhammad states that he was told about the $10 minimum, complained and that Pak then called him a “broke ass nigger” and that he should “go back to Africa.” Pak states that Muhammed was immediately confrontational when he entered the store, shouting that Pak was taking advantage of the black community and price gouging. Pak states that he was immediately offended and told Muhammad that he would not serve Muhammed and asked him to leave the store. Pak states that Muhammed continued to shout, told Pak to call the police if he wanted to and then slammed his debit card down on the counter and asked for $5 in gas. Pak states that he responded by stating there was a minimum $10 purchase to use a debit card (Pak has stated he has no such policy, but just made the statement to try to get Muhammed to leave). Pak states that Muhammad then continued to shout, complained about the minimum purchase amount, called Pak a “Chinaman” and told him “to go back to China”. Pak states that he then got angry and called Muhammad a “nigger and said he should ‘go back to Africa.’ ” Muhammad claims that Pak referred to him as a slave. Pak denies referring to Muhammad as a slave.
The “Stop Don’t Shop” group claims to be protesting price gouging and racism exhibited by the store owner, Tommy Pak. The group says that Pak overcharges for gas, requires a $10 minimum for purchases by card, is rude to customers, checks women’s purses to make sure they are not shoplifting, threatens customers with a shotgun, has his clerks beat customers and that Pak shot a man in the back for stealing a few dollars.
The group’s Facebook page states:
“Protest has begun in front of a South Dallas combined convenient store and gas station, with the intent of putting that store along with the overall South Dallas business community on notice that their community will no longer be disrespected.”
The Facebook page also lists in the group’s mission as opposing:
“1. Price gouging - We will no longer accept crime as the excuse for price gouging.
2. Owner imposed Minimum Purchase Limits on Debit Card purchases.
3. ATM Fees increased by lowering maximum withdrawal amounts
4. Demanding Black Women expose purse contents before exiting beauty supply stores.
5. Lining our children up outside stores after school and allowing 1 or 2 at a time to enter.”
At a city council meeting on January 18, Muhammad also mentions their concerns with Asian beauty supply stores. References on their Facebook page have also referred to beauty salons, nail salons and other beauty industry stores.
At this point, negotiation and resolution efforts are being led by the Korean American Coalition and the Korean Society of Dallas. Based in large part on the above statements pointing toward Asian businesses and the protest group’s mission statement, KAC and the Korean Society felt it was necessary to step in immediately in order to attempt to reach a resolution that did not spill over to other Asian businesses.
The Nation of Islam and Local Chapters of the NAACP are fully behind this effort, along with N'COBRA, National Black United Front, Nation of Gods and Earths, Justice Seekers, MUHAMMAD MOSQUE NO. 48 of Dallas,TX., Area preachers, and the Peter Johnson Foundation for Non-Violence. As stated by one columnist, “This protest is part of a larger mobilization against foreign- or immigrant-owned businesses in southern Dallas.” (Jim Schutze, Dallas Observer)
“DON’T STOP, DON’T SHOP” AND THE DALLAS CITY COUNCIL
On behalf of the Don’t Stop, Don’t Shop group, representatives spoke at the Dallas City Council meeting on January 11, 2012. Below are relevant excerpts from that meeting.
Juanita Wallace, NAACP Dallas President (23:35):
“There are racial slurs made by the owner, inflated gas prices, a $10 debit card limit – I’ve never heard of that – killed a man last year like I stated, and I want to know where the case is regarding this. I want to know exactly what the position, where we are with this case. Over 200 police services to that station. Our police officers have more important things to do than go over to that Shamrock, and everybody in here, after I finish telling you, will know that something is illegal going on over there. Compliances need to be checked out, we need everything. Health, we need Immigration, every agency to go over there and check it out, and we’re requesting that as of today publicly. Gun-carrying store clerk used to intimidating anyone who challenges his prices or otherwise.”
Reverend Peter Johnson (27:35):
“The Dallas Police Department has a responsibility to protect us while we’re protesting. They should not be engaged in negotiating for us. I’m offended that a Dallas police lieutenant negotiated for us and came and told us that the owner of this particular store was willing to meet all our demands. I didn’t know we had any demands. You know, we don’t have a list of demands for this store. The Dallas Police Department, you all need to get your nose out of our business. Your responsibility is to protect us while we do nonviolent protest. Elected officials, your responsibility are to see that your citizens are not exploited and taken advantage of. The systemic problems of poverty that afflict our people have a direct relationship to the fact that businesses in our community, at six in the evening, or seven in the evening, they get a money bag, get in their Lexus and heading off with our money. And [the money] never comes back.
“[About Pak’s store,] the arrogance, the disrespect, and the brutality must be addressed. We have a right to tell our people to withhold their money from companies that does not respect us, and that treat us as second class citizens.”
Donald Wright (31:00):
“The gas station…takes advantage of and disrespects the customers who keep them in business…This owner feels comfortable in using the N word to African American customers, and the B words to female customers. A man has also been killed there for theft, and we all know the price for theft is not death. This business owner that disrespects blacks does not deserve to be in our community…Those that solicit our vote, we expect you to represent us if we elect you, we expect you to be there for us. If you’re not going to be there for us, and recognize the things that are happening in our community, we will not be there to support you come election time. This goes for councilmembers, school board members, chambers of commerce and county commissioners.”
Councilwoman Carolyn Davis (33:12):
“I was there on the boycott line along with the minister and other individuals who were out there. Chief Brown is not here today, but I will be setting up a meeting with him to talk about a number of things that’s going on at that particular location…A lot of it is price gouging. I do believe there are some other activities are going on at that particular location, so Reverend Wright and Mr. Johnson let me get with Chief Johnson so I can talk to him about some things that I’ve seen there since I’ve been on the protest line myself. Our city manager and I will be working with her to ensure that everybody’s treated fair in this process and that people are respected as they do their protest.”
PAK SPEAKS OUT
Choe met with Mr. Pak last week. By Pak’s account to Choe:
“Mr. Mohammed walked into his store and was shouting and belligerent. Mr. Mohammed was arguing about the prices and the $10 minimum to use a debit card. Mr. Pak responded by saying he was free to go somewhere else. Mr. Mohammed continued on, kept shouting and was belligerent. Mr. Mohammed then began cursing, referred to Mr. Pak as a Chink and Chinaman and said that he should go back to China. Finally, against his better judgment, Mr. Pak responded with slurs. Mr. Mohammed continued to shout and so Mr. Pak, being very frustrated, called the police. Mr. Mohammed kept ranting until the police showed up.”
In Pak’s own words:
“…I've been here for 10 years, I could have left a long time ago. Ninety-nine percent of my customers are Black people; how can I be a racist to work in an all-Black community for that long? I have Black people who work for me at the store, I hire Black people all the time. Most of the fighting and crime at my store is between Black people and Black people.”
“[On the argument with Minister Jeffrey Muhammad,]It was an argument between a man and a man; it had nothing to do with race or with religion, or no skin color. That day, that argument just heated up. I'm a U.S. citizen, I was in the Army National Guard for six years, I served my country, I pay my taxes. I come to work every day at 5:00 a.m. to feed my family. I have nothing against anybody.” (from article)
THE CURRENT SITUATION
While the protest is currently nonviolent, the Dallas Police Department now has two patrol cars assigned to sit at the gas station every day, and Police Chief Brown has assigned one of his deputy chiefs to monitor the situation. The FBI was contacted and provided written information regarding the situation, though whether the FBI will intervene is still unclear.
All efforts from KAC to try to sit down with the leaders of the “Don’t Stop, Don’t Shop” protest movement have failed. Their response to date has been that they want Mr. Pak gone and that it is "non-negotiable." They have also called for a boycott of all Asian businesses, which seems to indicate this protest is about much more than just Mr. Pak's one store.
At this point, negotiation and resolution efforts are being led by KAC and the Korean Society of Dallas. KAC has been working with Anthony Bond, the founder and former President of the Irving NAACP to attempt to reach a resolution; however, he, as well as Bob Lydia, a former President of the Dallas NAACP and a current national board member of the NAACP, have both been unable to get the protest group to cooperate despite several attempts to set up a meeting.
KAC and the Korean Society of Dallas have also been working with the NAACP at the national level and asked for their assistance. They have stated that Dr. Wallace has been acting in her capacity as an individual and not as a representative of the NAACP.
On Friday afternoon, February 3, Tommy Pak spoke on the radio of a major African American gospel station. KAC also provided an interview to the Dallas Morning News (the main Dallas newspaper) and an interview to the local Korean media. The Dallas Morning News published a very long investigative article on the front page on Monday, February 6. The article showed that many of the allegations made by the protest group were excessively embellished or were completely false. Most comments to the article have been extremely supportive of Pak. Additionally, an editorial was written the next day by another reporter with the Dallas Morning News that also has registered positive comments that are supportive of Pak. Finally, the North Texas Gazette, which is the largest African American newspaper in the area, will be publishing an article tomorrow, February 9, that also calls for resolution by the parties. The public sentiment seems to be swaying away from the protest group at this time.
The Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce is refusing to get involved; the chair has a “poor” relationship with the Korean community and has stated that other organizations are better prepared and able to step in and assist Pak. Chong has reached out to numerous Asian community leaders and they have also been collectively placing pressure on their contacts to work toward pushing for a resolution.
After refusing to meet for months, on the evening of February 9, 2012, the protest group agreed to sit down with KAC and Pak.
UPDATE -- February 18, 2012 -- As of this writing, the leaders of the "Don't Stop Don't Shop" movement have decided to call off their protest of Pak's store, but the underlying issues of mistrust and economic disparity persist. The African American and Asian American communities must continue to come together and seek solutions that will develop a stronger foundation of collaboration and understanding in the two communities.
Don't Stop, Don't Shop on Facebook
Don't Stop, Don't Shop Youtube video
Blog: Madame Noire
Blog: Jesse Muhammad
Message Board: Don't Stop, Don't Shop
Blog: Final Call
Nation of Islam website
2012-01 Dallas Observer: Jim Schutze
2012-01 NBCDFW: African American Leaders Call for Boycott of Asian Owned Business
2012-01 Dallas Weekly: Diamond Shamrock Owner speaks out
2012-01 Dallas Weekly: Live from Atop Schutze's Head
2012-02-05 Dallas News: Racial tensions in protest of South Dallas gas station
2012-02-06 Dallas News: South Dallas protest fails to articulate the real problem
2012-02-09 New America Media: Black Korean tensions flare in Dallas
2012-02-09 North Dallas Gazette: Searching for Reconciliation
2012-02-14 Texas GOP Vote: Black Activist Asserts NAACP and Nation of Islam are Self-Assumed and Illegitimate Leaders of the Black American Majority
2012-02-15 Dallas Observer: The Diamond Shamrock Protest May Be Canceled Due to Lack of Interest. 'Bout Time.
2012-02-15 Dallas News Editorial: Black-Korean tension in South Dallas
2012-03-02 Dallas News: Jeffrey Muhammad speaks, as radio host Robert Ashley tries to get a word in
2012-03-06 Dallas News Editorial: Apology and forgiveness
2012-03-06 Dallas News Opinion: Going Rogue
2012-03-07 Dallas Observer: Southern Dallas Kwik Stop Protesters Change Gears, Shift Goals To Establish Black Banks
2012-01-11 Video: Dallas City Hall meeting
The Korean American Coalition's (KAC) Summer College Internship Program (SCIP) is designed to provide personal and professional development opportunities to highly qualified Korean American college students, and to encourage them to take on future leadership roles in the Korean American community. The application postmark deadline is February 24.More about SCIP