By Adam Rhodes
Center on Halsted, an LGBT community center in Boystown, chose a new security firm in late January in response to a months-long series of protests, letters and activism from the community about the previous security firm owner’s racist past.
Following a bidding processing that kicked off late last year, Quantum Security beat out 10 other firms to become Center on Halsted’s new security firm and is now tasked with maintaining peace at the largest LGBT community center in the Midwest.
Company owners Laquita Franklin and Phylon Moore, who founded the family-run firm in April 2018 and run the company out of the couple’s Woodlawn home, sat down with Medill Reports earlier this month to talk about how they plan to serve Center on Halsted patrons and the allegations of racism and profiling that plagued Walsh Security, the community center’s previous security provider.
What made you decide to focus on the LGBTQ+ community within the security business?
Moore: I’ve noticed one thing about one of our favorite presidents, the 44th president. He did a lot for the LGBT community. I felt like what [the LGBT community] needed was some type of safety or security in that community.
We were on the outside, and it was either you’re with the community or you’re against the community. There was no in-between. So, we decided to jump on in. We have family members that are part of the community, we have children and we just knew that it was a different type of security that the community needs.
Center on Halsted’s previous security firm, Walsh Security, was repeatedly accused of profiling and harassing queer people of color in the community center. How do you plan to overcome those tensions between security and Center on Halsted patrons?
Franklin: Well, the good part about it is that we’ve been in the community already, so a lot of things we already know. So that’s a plus. And we’re up for any challenge.
Moore: I think the biggest challenge that we’re going to have to face is that we’re coming in when people are questioning the security that Center on Halsted had. But the approach that Quantum Security takes is even more of a softer approach to building the relationship.
We don’t care that you literally just threw a chair through the window. What we care about is what gets you to that point, where you threw the chair through the window, so this doesn’t happen again. I want you to stay. You’re part of the community. This is your space. We don’t want to kick anybody out of this space
How will Quantum Security ensure that Center on Halsted is safe for queer people, while also ensuring that the patrons are treated fairly?
Moore: We want to make sure that any part of the community that comes into a space that Quantum Security is a part of knows that we’re peace ambassadors. We’re not here to police you.
Franklin: We try to look at it as more like mentoring, just finding out what brought your bad day upon you. If you could find that out there, you could talk to them and ease them a little bit.
What is your favorite part about owning Quantum Security?
Franklin: My favorite part personally is that I get to see [Phylon] living out a dream that he’s talked about for so long. That’s my motivation to really make it grow. This is like the birth of a baby that he’s been pregnant with for so long.