How a Battle Over a Korean-Owned Kwik Stop Divided, Then United, South Dallas

Led by a little-known minister, protesters rallied to run a Korean store owner out of business. Then they learned a little more about that minister.

He said he was working when a bald, black man in a suit and bow tie walked in. He now knows it to be Muhammad, but Pak didn't recognize him at the time. Muhammad was irate as he accused Pak of exploiting blacks and price gouging.

"I want $5 on my debit card, right now!" the man demanded after a brief exchange, slamming his debit card onto the counter.

Pak said he felt disrespected in his own store. So he lied. "Sorry. We have a $10 minimum."

Pak told Bond the customer then called him a Chinaman — a slur to any Asian but especially a Korean, since the Chinese had oppressed Koreans for the better part of two millennia. Pak lost it.

The customer shouted right back. "You don't know who you're messing with. I'll be back!"

It was a more nuanced version of Muhammad's events, and believable since Pak admitted to calling him a "nigger." Muhammad never strayed from his claim of innocence. But later that morning, he seemed as enlivened by the encounter as he did offended: "Korean called me a slave and said we should go back to Africa," he wrote on Twitter. "Can't tweet my words, but I invited both clerks outside to a savage beating."

Two weeks later, he was outside with a camera crew.

After his meeting with the NAACP, Pak went on a popular black radio show to apologize, to submit. He cried again.

The Korean community, meanwhile, was so scared that a Korean consul flew up from Houston, and the president of the Federation of Korean Associations personally invited Muhammad and the NAACP's Dallas president, Juanita Wallace, to the Korean-American leaders' first General Meeting and Leadership Conference at the Omni Hotel. Muhammad was even scheduled a half-hour to speak. Media would be there. No one else from the United South Dallas Coalition was invited. Muhammad didn't ask them, either.

"We are the mother and father of human beings, and you should honor your mother and father, as the Bible said." Muhammad's NOI cohorts urged him on.

"The Honorable Louis Farrakhan has taught us that business is warfare, and it appears our community is under siege. Many have asked us, are your protesters targeting Asian businesses?" He paused. "The real question is, has the Asian community targeted the black community to exploit? I believe there's more evidence to the latter."

Until this moment, Muhammad had managed to keep his most extreme views under wraps, at least in mainstream media outlets. Coupled with his giving credit for the protests to more palatable leaders, the effort had stayed on track. Now, with cameras rolling, Muhammad was veering off the rails.

"The Jews have always wanted a relationship with the black community, and they have sucked the resources out of the black community, and after them, the Pakistanis have done it, and after them the Indians have done it, the Arabs have done it, the Italians have done it in our community, and now the Vietnamese did it, the Koreans," he said. "You are now the next person in a line of people who has come to the black community and taken advantage of a people."

It was Muhammad's coronation. For years, he'd been the head of a fringe sect. People dismissed him for his extreme beliefs and slim numbers every time he opened his mouth. Now, he was the voice of the black community.

The NOI got a copy of the speech and uploaded it to YouTube. One supporter, ex-councilwoman Sandra Crenshaw, was so moved she wept when she heard it. Others were disgusted. The moment had exposed Muhammad as what he was: a black supremacist.

"People came up to me and said they thought they were in the presence of the devil," Bond later said. "I felt it, too.

They also felt the presence of a scam. Because as Muhammad spoke, the true story of Marcus Phillips' death was making its rounds.


Five days before Muhammad addressed the Koreans, the Morning News finally jumped into the fray, publishing its first story on the protests. In it, reporter Steve Thompson painted a decidedly different picture of the way Phillips died.

After Phillips asked for his cigarettes, the clerk turned to reach for a pack. That's when Phillips went for his score: not a candy bar, not a few bucks, and not the store's cash drawer. He reached for the entire cash register.

According to the police report, Phillips lifted the register off the counter and turned to run. He was headed out the door when the register's cord, still plugged in, yanked him to a halt. When he turned, the clerk had a shotgun in his hand and told him to get on the ground. He was calling the police. Phillips knelt down.

As the clerk turned to call the police, Phillips jumped up with the register and ran out of the store, ripping the cord loose. The clerk followed, sprinting after Phillips, cradling his shotgun through the morning darkness.

"Stop! Stop!"

When the clerk had just about caught up with Phillips, the thief turned and threw the cash register at the clerk. It hit the ground and broke; the cash drawer fell out. Both men lunged for it, but Phillips was faster. He threw a punch, picked up the drawer, and sprinted across MLK.

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