Iowa City roiled as neighbors protest armed security guard at convenience store/gas station in Black neighborhood
It seems to me that a controversy in Iowa City, Iowa illustrates Instapundit Glenn Reynolds's dictum that the demand for racism vastly exceeds the supply in present-day America. At issue is not another hate crime hoax, but rather a protest against the presence of an armed security guard at only one of three gas station/convenience store outlets in the area run by the regional chain Casey's. The store that had an armed guard happened to be in a census tract with 25% Black population, and that led to charges that it was discriminatory.
Hillary Ojeda reports for the Iowa City Press-Citizen (hat tip: David Paulin):
A Casey's convenience store on the south side of Iowa City has "paused" its practice of having an armed security guard on-site after some neighbors and community activists questioned the message that sent.
Out of 2,200 Casey's outlets in 16 states, "only a couple dozen" have armed security guards. This, apparently is seen as an affront by some:
Over the past month, Iowa City South District residents have been questioning why Casey's felt the need to have a security guard in a neighborhood with a higher Black population compared to other locations where there are reportedly no guards.
It was an issue raised at meetings of the Iowa Freedom Riders, an opinion piece published in The Cedar Rapids Gazette, and numerous social media posts from activists and residents.
Catherine Hitchcock, a resident of the South District, told the Press-Citizen she feels the decision to have the armed guard at the Casey's near her home was discriminatory.
How is this "discriminatory"? Is she planning to rob it? If not, how is she hindered from doing anything?
But the rhetoric is flying hot and heavy:
.@caseysgenstore thinks the South District is an occupied police state. Black neighborhoods do NOT need armed guards at gas stations. Fill out their contact form and show them how racist this is: https://t.co/KmQCnOBFKW https://t.co/ieefwTQpOb— Iowa Freedom Riders (@IAFreedomRiders) May 3, 2021
Apparently, some people believe that the chain is going to the considerable extra expense of hiring an armed security guard for no reason at all, other than to cast aspersions on the neighborhood, particularly its Black residents:
Christopher Patton, a resident in the South District neighborhood, said he regularly gets gas at his local Casey's and has never felt unsafe there.
"I feel like Iowa City is a very safe community," he said. "Maybe some people feel safer seeing armed guards in places, but I honestly don't."
Temple Hiatt, who lives in the neighborhood and is Johnson County's leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said she believes an armed security guard does more harm than good. The fact that other Casey's don't have security guards does not create a welcoming environment for customers, she added.
"We feel like we're being targeted," Hiatt said. "And unfortunately, when guns are present like that, it's not a deterrent, it's an escalation."
The company says its policy is based on the experience at individual stores:
A Casey's spokesperson said when a store has "elevated levels of disruptive activity that impacts guests and team members, our safety guidelines call for on-site security support."
But some locals think they know better than the company how much trouble there is at the location:
The Iowa City Police Department provided calls for service from each of the three Casey's locations in the city to the Press-Citizen. At the Broadway location, the number of calls decreased from 139 to 120 between 2017 and 2018, according to the data.
But of course, with an armed guard present, it stands to reason that the number of calls to police would decrease. Troublemakers tend to be discouraged by armed guards, after all.
David Paulin pointed out to me in an email:
If Casey's had a security problem at a particular store yet failed to do anything about it — such as having increased security — then I would think that they could be held liable if innocent customers were attacked by thugs that Casey's all but allowed to hang out at their outlet.
My wild guess is that some people feel shame when they see an armed guard in their neighborhood. They may not want to admit that the elevated need for such is related to the character of their area of residence. They don't like such feelings, so they project onto others a sinister motive to avoid reflecting on the behavior that causes the need.
But I am a dreaded white male, so that probably makes this view "racist."
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.