2 arrested in Boystown brawl as local businesses mull future of private security patrols (Video)

Chicago police closed Halsted Street in Boystown to vehicles for about 30 minutes overnight while officers dispersed a large crowd and managed several fights in the roadway. Officers arrested two people, but no serious injuries were reported. The disturbance came as some Halsted Street bars resumed full capacity, late night operations after more than a year of limited service during the COVID pandemic.

Just a month ago, Boystown business leaders said they might not resume their long-running armed security patrol as attitudes toward policing change and the Chicago Police Department itself suggested better ways for them to spend money.

Speakers at the meeting generally agreed that they would rather use money to promote businesses that operate during the day and evening hours rather than provide high-priced security for a small number of businesses that operate overnight. Among the ideas discussed at the meeting was hiring security for a couple of hours overnight to handle a phenomenon one speaker called “the 3 a.m. problem.”

The nickname appears to be well-earned. Sunday’s brawls broke out at 2:48 a.m. on the 3300 block of North Halsted, home to landmark LGBTQ bars like Roscoe’s Tavern and Sidetrack.

Snapchat video shows a man running up the hood of a car, jumping on its roof, then leaping on top of a Chicago police officer as the car’s driver steps out. Later, another man appears to smash the car’s front window and forces its rear door open.

Security car

Another video from the same time shows an SUV emblazoned with a private security company logo double-parked in the middle of Halsted Street north of Roscoe Street. But it was not clear if the security firm, Protexa, was on patrol or if its employees were involved in securing the area.

Protexa, a fully licensed security company, was known as Walsh Security Chicago LLC, and Security Chicago LLC, before adopting its current name in March 2020, according to state records.

A Protexa security vehicle sits in the median of Halsted Street near Roscoe Street early on Sunday, May 23, 2021. | Snapchat

Secretary of State filings show one of Protexa’s corporate managers is Thomas Walsh Jr, who was fined and placed on probation by state regulators for operating a security company without a license, according to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation records, which show his probation ended last month.

Walsh’s unlicensed firm, A&T Security, previously served as Northalsted’s private security patrol, according to documents provided to CWBChicago by a source in 2017. The state involuntarily dissolved A&T Security in April 2018.

In September 2017, CWBChicago reported that A&T Security also received $60,000 in taxpayer money to provide armed security patrols in the Lakeview East neighborhood even though it was not authorized to operate as a security company.

Late last month, the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, which hired A&T Security for those taxpayer-funded patrols, announced that it is hiring Protexa to provide armed and unarmed security patrols in their area. A Protexa SUV and personnel have been seen at dining-out events organized by the Lakeview chamber over the past two weekends.

Protexa will undergo a performance review after six months of service to the Lakeview group, according to draft minutes from an April 28 meeting of commissioners who oversee operations of a local tax district. The chamber asked 15 security companies for proposals to serve as their security company, but only Protexa responded, according to the meeting minutes.

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