‘Blame China’: Sign outside New Mexico Italian restaurant stirs up controversy

National News

DEMING, N.M. (KRQE) – A restaurant owner in southern New Mexico is being forced to temporarily close the doors because – like a lot of restaurants across the state – they’re having a difficult time hiring workers.

Unlike other restaurants, however, Forghedaboutit Southwest Italian is under fire for a large sign posted in front of the establishment that reads: “Blame China!”

“We are not racist, we are not bigots,” said Kimberly Yacone, the owner of the Italian eatery. “This thing came from China, it’s a known fact.”

The Yacones’ restaurant had been open in Deming for eight years. Now, like so many restaurants in New Mexico, they’re having a hard time finding staff to run the place. “When people are making more on unemployment than they are going back to work, it’s hard to find help,” said Yacone.

Yacone said she and her husband Robert blame the Chinese government for their inability to keep their Deming restaurant open. “When we say blame China, yeah! That’s where it came from,” said Yacone. “We’re not blaming Chinese American people.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been numerous, graphic media reports of physical and verbal assaults on Asian Americans, with the FBI warning in March of 2020 of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. In multiple attacks that were caught on video, the assailants can be heard referencing China and even yelling “China virus.”

Nexstar’s KRQE asked her if the sign on the property instigates violence against the Asian community. “I don’t think it does,” Yacone replied. “That’s towards the Chinese government.”

However, people on social media don’t agree with her. In the past few days, some bad reviews have come up on their Facebook page from people who say they refuse to support their business and call them bigots.

Yacone says she’s received calls too, defending their stance. “It’s just ridiculous to say that we’re racist,” she said.

Yacone says the sign will remain up. “It is what it is,” she said.

KRQE reached out to the ACLU of New Mexico about the sign. In a statement they said:

“This sign simply replays the Trump administration’s tactic of dodging blame for its failures by playing to racial antagonism toward Asian Americans. We’ve seen how signs like this inspire hate and violence against the Asian community. Instead of contributing to these kinds of divisions in our country, we should be pulling together to defeat the virus.”

Peter Simonson, Executive Director of ACLU New Mexico

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