Elgin business owners worry about impact of fake Craigslist ad

- Business owners in Elgin are working to clear their names after a fake craigslist post named them as KKK supporters. While the post is no longer available online the damage may have already been done.

The post mentioned Southside Market, Meyer’s Smokehouse, Jeanette Shelby Realty and the Hogeye Festival.
The owners of Meyer’s Smokehouse are fuming about the online ad.

“First I was sick at my stomach and now I'm just mad,” said Gregg Meyer, co-owner of Meyer’s Smokehouse.

The post, in reference to the Elgin Ku Klux Klan, stated "Southside and Meyer’s are longtime supporters."

“It's not true,” Meyer said. 

In a statement, the owners of Southside Market said, “We, along with the City of Elgin and organizers of the Hogeye Festival, reported false claims to authorities. Southside has no involvement, nor do we have any connections, to the organizations named.” 

The Craigslist post also asked people who want to join the Klan to "please inquire with Jeanette Shelby Realty."

“This is not something that I believe in and I don't think it should be something where somebody puts those words in my mouth,” said Jeanette Shelby, owner of Jeanette Shelby Realty. 

Removing the post from Craigslist proved much more difficult than anyone thought. The classified advertisements website told Jeanette Shelby and Gregg Meyer initially they need a subpoena to get it taken down.

“We've contacted Craigslist trying to get it off of Craigslist. The police have been contacted and the FBI have been contacted about it,” Shelby said.

As of around 11 p.m. on October 16th, the ad was no longer available. It's not clear who took it down or the reasons for the removal.

In the meantime, all three business owners worry what their community will think.

“If somebody thought this was true, and somebody thought I really was supporting the KKK, then that puts my life in danger from both sides,” said Shelby. 

“It's good and bad, the power that social media has. This is showing the bad part of it. You know, how someone can take a totally baseless claim and blow it up and people actually believe it and it affects people's lives and businesses and communities,” Meyer said. 

Shelby and Meyer hope to set the record straight less than two weeks before their favorite Elgin event, the Hogeye Festival.

“There is a lot of fear out there and I hope that this would not dissuade people from coming because we have great businesses here and a great festival and it's just sad to me that it came up at the same time,” Shelby said.  

All three Elgin business owners said they will seek legal action once the police investigation is complete.

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