Fifth Third Bank will remove two high-security doors at its branch in Auburn Gresham. This follows a string of protests where activists said the doors are discriminatory and demeaning to Blacks.
Following vocal concerns from members of the Auburn Gresham community and a public hearing of the Illinois Senate Financial Institutions Committee convened by Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th Senate District), branches of Fifth Third Bank will remove obtrusive, offensive security measures within the next month.
Senator Collins praised the move as an example of how companies and communities can work together to foster mutual respect.
Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina, who was active in bringing the concerns of the community to the public, also worked closely with Fifth Third, to arrive at an agreement, which will see high-security buzz-in doors removed.
At a March meeting of the Financial Institutions Committee, patrons of Fifth Third Bank branches in Auburn complained the high security was unnecessary, undignified, and potentially problematic or dangerous for individuals with small children, disabilities, or limited mobility.
“The prerogative and the duty of Fifth Third Bank is to protect its property, its assets, its employees and its customers, but these measures were not in force at other branches in neighborhoods with smaller minority communities, and I believe it unintentionally sent a message of distrust while doing little to deter bad actors,” Collins said. “We asked Fifth Third Bank to hear the concerns of the community and address the issue and I am glad to see that they are doing so in good faith and in a timely manner.”
Declaring a victory, Father Michael L. Pfleger late on July 20, announced his battle with the 81st and Ashland Fifth Third Bank branch and its discriminatory double door entry is over.
Pfleger made the announcement at the end of his weekly peace march by the Saint Sabina Mem-orial Wall. “We’ve been fighting (Fifth Third Bank) for a long time. It’s been quiet for a long time, but we’ve been working behind the scenes.
“This Wednesday, they are taking the doors out of the bank,” he told a cheering crowd, “and they will work with the community. They are not just taking them out there, but all of the places that have them,” Pfleger said.
Pfleger marched on the bank a number of times, threatening to call for a boycott if the doors were not removed. He said Fifth Third Banks in white areas don’t have the double doors even though there were robberies in some of those facilities.
As part of his negotiations with the bank, Pfleger had been quietly meeting with the head of the bank. “I met with her at the bank and she said this (the double door) is disrespectful. They are removing them on Wednesday.”
The bank president has hired 10 landscapers to beautify the bank, including planting trees. Beautification efforts are scheduled for all of the African American and Hispanic communities. Double door security entry will be removed from all of the Fifth Third Banks.
Chinta Strausberg contributed to this story.