Akira removes security guard armed with assault rifle after community outcry | News

Akira on 53rd Street hired a security guard armed with an assault rifle after it was broken into and robbed during the riot last weekend. The clothing store, which opened its Hyde Park location in 2012, removed the guard on Monday – another guard from the same company didn’t leave until Tuesday morning.

The man first became aware of this during the anti-police brutality march down 53rd Street on Sunday afternoon when protesters pointed this out to him. At the protest, an officer told the Herald that he believed the guard was with the Illinois State Police or the National Guard.

A protester on Twitter posted a video the guard with the caption, “This white man had a gun for me and my friend’s face. He wasn’t with the police that he had just instigated here. If he had been black, he would have been thrown to the ground, arrested, and beaten. But he was peacefully turned away. Because he’s white. “

Security guards are allowed Openly display guns in Illinois when they are only allowed to do so while “actually engaged in the performance of their duty”. According to the video, the man interacted with protesters and police two blocks east of Akira.

The man was outside Akira late Monday morning with the assault rifle strapped to the front of his chest. He refused to give the Herald his name. The man also said he was not “free” to declare when he was authorized to use his weapon. The day before, he had contacted the police to draw their attention to “suspicious persons” in connection with the protest.

He said he worked for SOS private securityand described himself as a “private military contractor”. After his LinkedIn profileThe company is based in Westmont, a western suburb, and provides armed security as well as temporary guardians. His slogan is: “There is no greater protector besides God.”

Akira co-owner Eric Hsueh said he regretted hiring the man and had not been made aware of the “real details” of the guard’s appearance, including the gun.

“I didn’t know there was such a big protest going on in Hyde Park that night and I didn’t know what (the guards) would be like,” he said. “When the organized, peaceful protest took place on Sunday, I didn’t know my husband was going out in the crowd.”

After a group of 20 to 30 people broke into the store Sunday morning, Hsueh estimates that they took about $ 25,000 in inventory. “I’ve tried boarding the place up and no boarding company can board it up. I’ve never called a security company in my life and found a third-party security company, ”he said.

On Monday, elected officials condemned the guard’s presence. “I didn’t know that fast fashion deserved a paramilitary force in this time of crisis,” said Senator Robert Peters (D-13). “It is a completely misguided security attempt by Akira and I am extremely disappointed.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) also said she disapproved. “I can understand how you are trying to protect our property during this pandemic and civil unrest, but it has the potential to make matters worse,” she said. “I don’t know if he’s trained in de-escalation.”

A representative from the University of Chicago who owns the building called Hsueh Monday and asked him to remove the guard. “I get a call from the landlord at the University of Chicago saying it doesn’t look good to have a man with a gun,” he said. “We don’t have all the answers and I understand how people feel and I’m referring to that. There are much bigger pictures here, and the last thing we want to do is be flammable. ”

Hsueh said the store initially replaced the original guard with another from the same company. “He left, but then he was replaced by someone who looked like him and was basically white,” he said. “Even though it’s a different person, it looks the same.” Finally, he said, they decided to take this guard on Monday evening.

Security guards Tactical Security Chicago – Hsueh said he wasn’t sure, but it was “very likely” that another company he hired was also outside the store on Monday and Tuesday while workers boarded up the building’s windows.

On Tuesday afternoon, a Tactical Security guard who did not reveal his name said the SOS guard with the assault rifle had only left around 9 a.m. earlier that day. During the protest, the Tactical Security guard said some police officers criticized the guard for walking around with his assault rifle on display.

Hsueh said the store should reopen on Wednesday, but the date would now be postponed to next week “at the earliest”.

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