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ELMHURST, IL — The Elmhurst man who confronted a local shop owner over an anti-Chinese sign two weeks ago spoke about the sign’s message at Monday’s City Council meeting.
During public comment, Andrew Kim, a Korean American who lives in a condo at 100 N. Addison Ave., called the sign offensive and racist.
Late last year, John Dulles, owner of Dulles Cleaners, posted a sign at his shop at 128 N. Addison Ave. that read, “Pray For The Removal Of Demonic Chinese Influence In Our Country.”
Kim said he knew that Dulles recently posted another sign saying that he meant to refer to the Chinese government, not the people
“The initial sign did not say he was referring either to the Chinese government or the Chinese people,” Kim told the council. “The initial sign referred to the quote-on-quote ‘demonic Chinese influence,’ insinuating that all those related to those of Chinese descent, including government, people and culture, are demonic.”
Such a sign, Kim said, perpetuates hate within the community.
“Because it is racist and hateful, it is dangerous to be communicating that kind of language and belief system in this day and age when hate crimes are so prevalent and specifically when anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise.”
He said Dulles may not have committed an act of physical violence, but “the revelation of his belief system is violent enough.”
Signs with such messages contribute to the emboldening of people who would commit hate crimes against Asian Americans, Kim said. Criminals who see such signs may believe they have support within the community to attack those of Asian descent, he said.
Because of that, he said it was imperative local elected leaders condemn the language on the sign and foster a “community of inclusiveness” for people of all backgrounds.
“My hope for John Dulles is not that he is forced to go out of business,” Kim said. “I do not hope that the upshot of this whole incident is that he is incapable of earning a living. My hope is that he would use this moment as a learning opportunity to understand the offensiveness of the belief system he has — a belief system that led to the posting of the racist sign.”
Kim said he moved to Elmhurst a year and a half ago and has no family of his own. He said his sister is an Elmhurst resident and has two children with her husband, a Moroccan American.
“As half Moroccan, half Korean children, they have as much a right to call this community their home as any of their white neighbors and classmates,” Kim said.
The council did not respond to Kim’s remarks, but aldermen typically do not comment on public input.
While Patch was interviewing Dulles about the sign last month, Kim opened the door, looked at Dulles and called him a racist for posting the sign. Dulles responded that the sign had been down for months.
Kim told Dulles he should not have posted the sign in the first place.
“You are a racist p—k,” he said.
In the interview, Dulles said the wording on the sign was a mistake. He said he should have made it clear that he was referring to the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.
“I have nothing against Chinese people,” he said. “I am not a racist.”
Dulles said the sign was up for about a week before a woman with a daughter of Chinese descent complained about it. That prompted him to take it down, he said.
The sign recently got public attention when it was spread on local social media.
Few residents speak during public input at City Council meetings. Both Kim and Dulles are part of that small group. In January 2020, Dulles addressed the council about what he said was a lack of parking on Addison Avenue.
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