The management of Akira withdrew the heavily armed security guard shown on the left after Hyde Parkers complained about his presence. 

In a move that drew near-universal criticism from Hyde Park residents and officials, Akira on 53rd Street hired a security guard armed with an assault rifle after it was broken into and robbed during last weekend’s unrest. The clothing store, which opened its Hyde Park location in 2012, removed the guard Monday — another guard from the same company did not leave until Tuesday morning. 

The man first came to attention during the anti–police brutality march along 53rd Street Sunday afternoon, when protesters pointed him out. At the protest, one officer told the Herald that he thought the guard was with Illinois State Police or the National Guard. 

On Twitter, a protester posted a video of the guard with the caption: “This white man had a gun to me and my friend’s face. He was not with the police he was just out here instigating. 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 permitted to openly display weapons in Illinois, though they must do so only while "actually engaged in the performance of his or her duty." According to the video, the man was interacting with protesters and police two blocks east of Akira. 

The man was in front of Akira late Monday morning with the assault rifle strapped to the front of his chest. He declined to give his name to the Herald. The man also said he was not “at liberty” to explain when he was authorized to use his weapon. The previous day, he said, he had been in communication with the police to alert them to “suspicious characters” around the protest. 

He said that he worked for S.O.S. Private Security, and described himself as a “private military contractor.” According to its LinkedIn profile, the company is based in Westmont, a western suburb, and provides armed security, as well as temporary guard replacement. Its slogan is “Next to God, there is no greater protector.” 

Akira co-owner Eric Hsueh said he regretted hiring the man, and hadn’t been made aware of the “true details” about the guard’s appearance, including the weapon. 

“I did not know that there was such a big protest happening in Hyde Park that night, and I didn’t know what (the guards) were gonna look like,” he said. “When the organized, peaceful protest happened on Sunday, I didn’t know my guy was going to go out there in the crowd.” 

After a group of 20 to 30 people broke into the store on Sunday morning, Hsueh estimated, they took about $25,000 of inventory. “I was trying to get the store boarded up, and no boarding company can board it up. I never called a security company ever in my life, and I found a third-party security company,” he said. 

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

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) also said she disapproved. “I can understand during this pandemic and civic unrest how you want to protect our property, but it poses 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, which owns the building, called Hsueh on 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 guy with a gun,” he said. “We don’t have all the answers and I understand how people feel, and I relate to it. There are much bigger pictures here, and the last thing we want to do is be inflammatory.” 

Hsueh said that initially the store replaced the initial guard with another one from the same company. “He did leave, but then he was replaced by somebody else that looked like him that was basically white,” he said. “Even though it’s a different person it looks the same.” Eventually, he said, they decided to pull that guard on Monday evening. 

Security guards from Tactical Security Chicago — Hsueh said that he wasn’t sure, but it was “highly likely” another company he had hired — were also in front of the store on Monday and Tuesday, while workers were boarding up windows on the building. 

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

Hsueh said that the store had been set to reopen for business on Wednesday, but the date would now be pushed back to next week “at the earliest.”


Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

(21) comments


Ok guys first off it is called an armalite rifle not assault that is a name the media and leftist put up to make it sound scary. The business has a right to protect it's own if you don't like it don't look or shop there. Next thing I am sure the businesses surrounding them didn't see a problem with it, it helped protect theirs to. Now for the ending of my rant the main ones that would have a problem is the same ones that are looting and destroying and keeping the fear and seperation of the people so they can keep control of the people.


Assault Rifles have been defined and implemented in the official military lexicon since WW2. An assault rifle, at an international and America military definition is "A select fire capable, intermediate cartridge rifle with a detachable box magazine"

So, yes, an AR-15 not an assualt rifle....Its a completely ignorant view of 70 years of firearms knowledge and tactics.

An M4 or L86 is an assualt rifle.

An M14 or an FN FAL, SKS (or the SLR if you're old enough to remember that designation) is a battle rifle:Full powered cartridge

If you gave someone an m16 with no select fire in a warzone, it would generally end up with a Designated Marksmen Rifle designation.

AR-15's were not designed to be "Sporting weapons", assualt weapons are not designed to be "Sporting weapons". They were designed with military efficiency in mind, and the reality is many semi-auto Armalite platform rifles are of a highly quality build and customizability to make it just as effective as a marines M16.

"Assault Rifle" has been in the military lexicon since literally Hitler created the StG44. Its literal translation is "Assualt Rifle".

I believe you should be allowed to own an AR-15 or tactical platform rifle, if you can actually accurately define each distinct form of firearm, its history, and its historical use.

You can use a sledge hammer as a putter, but that doesn't make it a golf club, and it doesnt make the sledge hammer not a sledge hammer.

Guns are not tools, they are weapons. Period.

You should be allowed to own one if you understand this simple concept.

Armed citizen

It's not an assault rifle. No such thing. It's a semi automatic rifle.

It's ashame the owner of the business is back peddling. He has the right to protect his business legally. There is nothing illegal about having and armed guard carrying an Ar 15.

The store was robbed of $250,000 in merchandise. Wake up people. Quit being so ignorant.


"Theres no such thing as an assault rifle, despite the term being apart of the official global military lexicon since 1944."

Assault rifles are a defined class of weapon. An AR-15 is not an assault rifle. But dont tell people assault rifles dont exist.

And you're right, the guard should stay. But that doesnt excuse you not knowing enough about military firearms to make a comment like "Assault rifle is a made up term"

Assault rifle, Battle Rifle, Designated Marksmen Rifle. All real designations. An AR-15 is still a tactical platform, and is equivalent to a intermediate cartridge DMR.

Tactical platforms are not designed to be sporting weapons, the same way a sledge hammer isn't designed to be a golf putter. Sure you could use it for that, but its primary purpose, the inception of its design, features, and modularity are all meant to maximize the shooters lethality, marksmanship, and volume of fire. Having a fire selector doesn't somehow make it completely different.

Guns aren't tools. They're weapons. Gun owners shouldnt kid ourselves by trying to hide what our weaponry is for...I stand by the 2nd, but I dont stand by historical ignorance in terms of firearms.


Why do people freak out when they see an armed security guard protecting an area obviously needing it? The city isn't doing a very good job so private owners have to do their job. Do you get upset that a bank has an armed guard?


I most liberals think they should try to talk criminals out of destroying their property or worse yet, some seem willing to pay them money to behave. It like when Obama sent pallets of money to the Iranian leader thugs to try to keep them from terrorist activity against the U.S. Heaven forbid we should take a stand and defend ourselves. Let's kiss up instead!


You know that money was actually earned by Iran, seized by the US and given back to them right?


Statistics show that if a bank has an armed guard, during a robbery the likelihood of violence sky rockets. Banks are insured. If the money gets stolen no one loses out. Banks would rather pay then have dead bodies in their lobbies. Most western countries understand this, and you wont find armed guards in many western banks outside of the us. Most people on planet earth dont believe theft is a death sentence.


Sweet mother mary Joseph and jesus.

It's not a freakin' assault weapon.

So...folks dont want businesses to protect their property ...

"Hey, we dont like it you hired security...makes it harder for us to loot your business"

"No, problem, here, let me fix that and not protect my property so you can loot away"

There. I fixed your headline


It is though. Its entire platform was designed for modularity and tactical battlefield usage. Its designed to make the shooter eliminate combatants at an efficient rate.

Anyone who says "Assualt weapons" dont exist literally has no knowledge of the whole purpose behind the armalite project? To design a military service rifle with many capabilities?

Taking away the selectfire just doesnt make it an assault rifle anymore. Generally speaking most ar-platforms function exactly like their military (M16/M4/L86/AK47/StG44 *literally means assualt rifle* all offically designated as an Assault Rifle)

To say it's not an assault weapon, when its literal entire concept is to be an assault weapon, is a ridiculous statement.


....worried this guy wasn't trained in de-escalation? What do you think the AR-15 is for? I guarentee just the sight of it would keep idiots from looting that store. Problem solved! You people that are hypnotized by todays political correctness, need a reality check. It looks far worse for you to tolerate a bunch of thugs using an unfortunate death as justification to rob their neighbors and community members all the while screaming about racial inequality. Wake up!!! We need a strong hand to end it. Quit tiptoeing around the issue and take a real stand against crime!


Oh man, if I said something like this in think military and police are told to think they're weapon is a de-escalator? Did you mean "deterrent?"

Yeah, point a weapon at a civilian (ESPECIALLY YOUR OWN) in the military and call it "de-escalation" and see how fast they bounce you out the door with a dishonorable discharge. Maybe it's different in american military doctrine (Explains the 4 failed 'hearts and minds' wars in a row)

But holllllyyyy balls I could not imagine, or conceive, using my weapon as a "De-escalator". Do you understand what can happen to most citizens who dont kill the person they pull a gun on? They go jail.

There is literally a doctrine of BASIC firearms training.


AR-15s are a great way to de-escalate gunfights. Not unarmed protestors.

And this protest isn't about crime, it's about police brutality. People will stop smashing stuff when US police stop getting caught on camera performing what would be considered war crimes in a battlefield.


Isn’t possession of assault rifle, especially a semiautomatic AR-15 with high capacity magazines and a ford pistol grip prohibited under that Cook County ordinance (section 54-212)? Is this guy going to get cited or charged or anything? Or does he exempt because cops look at him and assume he has authority? How many black men have been fined $5,000 to $10,000 and/or imprisoned under section 54-212?

Armed citizen

No such thing as an assault rifle. Only the media and anti gunners think there is.

Educate yourself on weapons before you go making false statements.

Dan Cook

The AR-15 is not an "assault rifle. The "high capacity magazine" you're thinking of is actually standard with most guns and is not "high capacity". There is also no such thing as a "ford pistol grip" or a forward pistol grip if that's what you meant. No black men have been fined or imprisoned under that ordinance. That man is exercising his Constitutional right to bear arms


Can you prove no black people have been affected by that ordinance?

Also, even though it's not an "assault rifle" its still a tactical combat platform. To argue with this is to argue with its entire history from 1956 to now.

"Modern Sporting Rifle" was first used in 2009 as a marketing term for the military style rifles on sale, but didn't want to scare consumers.

The AR-15 was an intermediate cartridge downscale from Stoners AR10. The whole platform was designed for modularity to make the common rifleman a more efficient and accurate Marksmen, while also being able to put down suppressive volumes of fire on a fireteam/squad level. Its whole design is maximized is to take human life.

Taking away the ability to empty a magazine by one depression of the trigger doesnt somehow make it a different weapon all together.


And he's potentially speading Covid19 - he was clearly not respecting social distance, and not wearing a mask. What kind of security company could be so ignorant?

Dan Cook

He's a security guard doing his job, genius. Anyone that approached him did so by their own accord. Wearing a mask does literally nothing. The only ignorant one is you


I used to think masks didn't do much, but recent research has proved me wrong.

This virus is unusual in how many people can be asymptomatic but still spread it. Wearing a mask is a courtesy to others because it protects them from the virus you may not know you have.


Oh I thought that was over when the murdering Hornets came in.

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