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.

The Korean dashed across the four lanes and caught up to Phillips again. Phillips turned and tried to hit the clerk with the cash drawer. The Korean backed up, took one shot into the ground. Phillips, desperate, pressed on, swinging the drawer at the Korean's head twice. When he ducked, Phillips lunged for the gun.

The clerk fired.

It only took one shot. Hot pellets ripped through Phillips' chest. He died on the sidewalk.

When police pulled up, the Korean still held the shotgun. It wasn't Tommy Pak; the owner rarely worked early mornings anymore. He was at home with his wife and daughter.

The case went to a grand jury and was ultimately dropped. Surveillance and multiple eyewitnesses all agreed: The clerk had shot in self-defense.


Not long after Muhammad's racist screed to the Koreans, the United South Dallas Coalition folded. On March 1, the Korean Community Coalition and the Justice Seekers Coalition held a joint press conference to sign a proclamation between the two groups. A new black coalition, comprising of the Justice Seekers, TAFFI and the Peter Johnson Foundation, announced an end to the protests. They started the protests, Ronald Wright reasoned, so they'd end them.

The Koreans and blacks vowed to worship together and form a partnership. Blacks had no businesses in South Dallas; maybe Koreans like Kim could help teach blacks how to be bankable. Koreans had no political influence within the city; black leaders would educate and introduce their Korean counterparts to Dallas politics.

Meanwhile, the black leaders distanced themselves from Muhammad. According to Bond, the NAACP issued a gag order to keep president Juanita Wallace, one of the minister's staunchest allies, from speaking in his support. Councilwoman Davis fell silent, retreating from the media. Johnson denied ever playing a role in the protests. Only Wright fessed up. Asked if Muhammad duped them into protesting, he thought for a second. "He did," he said.

Muhammad, meanwhile, kept protesting. The week after his triumph at the Korean conference, the Don't Stop Don't Shop Facebook page uploaded a generic picture of a large Korean family. Accompanied was a "letter."

"This happy KOREAN family would like to thank black women for giving KOREANS another $16.4 million dollars today," it read. "They also would like thank you for paying their mortgages, buying them the latest Lexus', and preparing their little ones to go to the best colleges. By the way, they said they will never hire blacks and won't give a dime back to your worthless communities. Thank you black woman for hating yourself so much. Your low self esteem is making us very rich. Thank you."

It was cordially signed, THE KWON FAMILY.

A few of Muhammad's soldiers were Christians, but now the protest resembled what it always was: a Nation of Islam operation. The protesters worked in shifts, usually ones or twos. But even protesters got cold, bored or had to work. Often, the sidewalk in front of the Kwik Stop would be empty. Business started to pick back up with fewer people harassing customers. They needed the store.

The day the proclamation was signed, Muhammad was in the street with a dozen protesters. A week after the proclamation, though, there was just a lone protester, holding up a sign: "Protest DON'T STOP DON'T SHOP Protest."

A burgundy Toyota Corolla rolled past the protester, into the dusty gas station, and pulled up to a pump.

"Hey brother, don't stop here!" The protester raised his sign. Maybe the driver couldn't see it. A young black kid opened the driver's side door. Then he glanced at the protester, shook his head and walked inside.

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