Chicago business owners say they were forced to close their North Center shop after they were “outed” as supporters of President Donald Trump last year.
Suzzanne Monk, who owns Worlds of Music Chicago along with her husband Alexander Duvel, said she attended Trump’s canceled speech and rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago last March.
Duvel posted on Facebook about his wife’s attendance, and while the couple said they had always managed to keep their political beliefs separate from their business, that one “seemingly innocent” Facebook post would lead to a controversy they never anticipated.
After Duvel’s post, which commented on the violence his wife witnessed at the event, the pair said someone who knew them began calling them out on social media and harrassing them for supporting of Trump. That criticism then transferred over to their business and they soon started receiving negative reviews online and ultimately threats.
At one point, someone left a note under their door that read, “I hope nothing happens to your business like a fire or a brick through the window," Monk said.
“It’s extremely disheartening for me being basically a life-long Chicagoan and being involved in so many very, very diverse musical communities,” Monk said. “Artists were supposed to be the people with the thick skins who could deal with controversial material.”
The couple eventually filed a police report in September against a “motivated stalker” they said would text them hateful comments and make open threats. Police could not immediately confirm the report.
Soon, the store began losing money at increasing rates, forcing the couple to cut employee hours and soon close their doors.
“These lies about us have even turned longtime friends and fellow musicians away, because to work or do business with us has or will harm their own reputations,” Monk wrote on a GoFundMe page sharing her story.
The store is now slated to close April 27 and the business will transition to an online-only shop. The couple started the GoFundMe campaign to help with that transition.
Monk and Duvel said their online business will be “an openly pro Trump business” and will “proudly boast our support for the 45th president.”
“Without the risk of a physical location to worry about, we feel safer doing the one thing that defeats the haters: tell the truth,” the GoFundMe page reads.
The couple plans to eventually move out of Chicago and to the East Coast, saying they never expected their political views would result in such bullying and cause a negative impact on their business.
“There is a culture we have in the city right now that is anti-Trump, Trump silencing and that’s one of the things we really want to move away from,” Monk said.
The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised more than $16,500 with a goal of $30,000.