LGBTQ center hires security firm to replace firm owned by cop accused of racist attack
Quantum Security, a black-owned firm employed by other LGBTQ centers, will replace Walsh Security on Feb. 17, the Center on Halsted announced.
The Center on Halsted, Chicago’s largest LGBTQ center, has hired a new security firm after months of protest because its current firm is owned by a Chicago police officer accused in a racist attack at a Boystown bar in 2013.
Quantum Security, a black-owned firm employed by other LGBTQ centers in Chicago, will replace Walsh Security Feb. 17, according to the Center on Halsted.
“Quantum Security was selected as the security provider that most closely meets the Center’s comprehensive selection criteria,” the center’s announcement said. “In addition to having a [minority-business-enterprise] certification, Quantum Security incorporates extensive training for their security officers who are considered ‘Peace Ambassadors.’”
The company’s clients include the Howard Brown Health Center, Broadway Youth Center, Triple S, La Casa Norte Pierce House and the Firehouse Community Arts Center.
LaQuita Franklin, chief management officer for Quantum Security, said she and partner Phylon Moore, the CEO, founded Quantum in 2018 to offer a “more compassionate approach” to security.
“We didn’t want to seem like we were policing anyone, because we see ourselves as providing safety versus security,” Franklin said.
Quantum’s guards go through a series of trainings that teach de-escalation, restorative and transformative justice, professionalism, nonviolent crisis intervention and pronoun usage, Franklin said.
However, the firm is not currently registered under the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.
Jamie Frazier, founder of the Lighthouse Foundation, a group seeking racial justice in Boystown and citywide, said the new hire was “a real victory for the power of black LGBTQ community organizing.”
The Lighthouse Foundation was created by black LGBTQ activists last summer after a tumultuous Memorial Day weekend in Boystown during which Progress Bar tried to ban rap music and the costume shop Beatnix sold a Confederate flag vest.
“As we looked into these particular events, chief among the discussion items brought to us by concerned community members was the continued employment of Walsh Security,” Frazier said.
Walsh Security is owned by Thomas Walsh, a Chicago police officer in the Town Hall District. Walsh was accused of attacking a black security guard and repeatedly calling him the N-word at the Lucky Horseshoe Lounge in Boystown in 2013, records show. Walsh was off duty at the time.
The city’s old Independent Police Review Authority recommended in 2015 that Walsh be suspended for 60 days, and he appealed. Judy Dever, deputy corporation counsel for Chicago, said a hearing regarding Walsh’s appeal has taken place and a decision should come soon.