ELMHURST, IL (CBS) – A Chicago suburb business owner makes things political – and he's not afraid to explain why. He told WBBM-TV's Jeremy Ross that it was his right to do what some people say is just wrong.
Shaun Thompson, owner of Elmhurst Cigar House, is politically unresponsive to his words these days. He says if you voted for Joe Biden as president, he doesn't want your business, your money, or your presence in his business – and he is ready to face the consequences in protest.
There are many signs in downtown Elmhurst. But the one that was set up in the cigar store weeks ago is attracting increasing attention. It's a balloon-shaped orange paper sign with the handwritten words "Biden Voters Keep Out!" The sign is pretty shocking to many.
"I find it really, really horrific – pretty much what I want to say and not go in," one woman told WBBM. "I find it terrible."
"I find that offensive," added another woman. "I'm a Trump supporter. So if someone were to put 'Trump supporters stay out', I wouldn't consider that a very nice thing."
Speaking to us from South Florida, Thompson defended his decision to put up the sign and keep the followers off Biden.
"I don't want them anyway. I don't want them in there, and I don't have to pretend they respect me," Thompson said, "so I'll show disrespect for them."
Thompson said his demeanor was not a joke. "Don't come to my shop. Tell your friends," he said. "I don't want you in the shop. I don't want you near me. "
Thompson has owned the Elmhurst Cigar House for about six years. However, after the hotly contested presidential election in November, he decided that a sign of protest was appropriate. And he said it was "absolutely" a matter of his own freedom of speech.
"There's nothing in any anti-discrimination law – federal, state, or local – that prevents you from expressing your political beliefs – that this place obviously does," said Irv Miller, legal analyst at WBBM-TV.
Miller said the sign was a form of proprietary language for the private business owner.
"If the law works like this, that's fine, but that doesn't mean I'll support it," a witness told WBBM.
Miller said Thompson and his business might not have any legal ramifications for the sign, but it could have business ramifications. "Business Consequences – is he doing this to improve his bottom line, or would it really ruin his bottom line in the long run," he said.
"He's doing a pretty risky thing because it's split in half at Elmhurst," one resident told WBBM.
"I think it wouldn't be a good sign for business," added another.
Thompson said he had not previously made any sales due to COVID shutdowns. So if there's a backlash, he said, he's ready – and just smokes the unsold cigars himself.
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