On June 6th, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hired three private security companies to patrol the South and West sides during the protests against the murder of George Floyd, in a contract that cost up to $1.2 million. These no-bid contracts were awarded unilaterally by the Mayor with no input or vote from the City Council, and sparked outcry from several alders due to these security guards lacking badge numbers or other transparency measures. One of the security companies, Monterrey, has a long history of harming working class Chicagoans—security officers have brutalized civilians, and the company itself is tied to organized crime. Monterrey Security is an abhorrent company, and Lightfoot hiring them is an outrage.
In 2017, an armed Monterrey Security guard killed a man suspected of shoplifting from a North side Walmart by kneeling on his neck, similarly to how George Floyd was murdered. This Monterrey employee was not licensed to be a security guard in Illinois, and he had previously broken another civilian’s pelvis. We know for a fact that at least one Monterrey security guard was unlicensed because he killed a civilian—it is both possible and likely that more guards are also not licensed, but there is no way to investigate because they do not have names or badge numbers on their uniforms. Monterrey’s contract was terminated by sports teams in other states because they failed to perform the proper background checks or training for their employees, yet Chicago continues to hire them to patrol Navy Pier, McCormick Place, and now the protests that have erupted across the city.
Monterrey was founded by Juan Gaytan, a former Chicago police officer, and Santiago Solis, brother of disgraced former alderman Danny Solis. Juan Gaytan was formerly a Chicago police officer who resigned in 2002 after he shot a civilian. Both Gaytan and Solis were named in the affidavit alleging that former Alderman Solis received favors in exchange for special treatment while on City Council. In 2015, Monterrey was awarded a $5 million contract with the City of Rosemont to guard convention centers, but this bid was noncompetitive and sparked investigation from the FBI due to possible ties to organized crime and narcotics distribution. From its founding, Monterrey has been embroiled in controversy and corruption.
Monterrey is a uniquely bad private security firm. But all private security is opaque, unaccountable, and often unregulated. Guards are not required to wear name tags, badge numbers, or body cameras, which makes it impossible to lodge complaints of abuse of power. Private guards are often not properly trained in how to de-escalate conflict. Of course, public police officers often do not wear badge numbers or have their body cameras on, so this does not feel like a meaningful difference. Perhaps that is the point—there is no meaningful difference between public police and private security, except for who is able to employ them.
Private security guards are an armed force that one can rent if they have the money to pay for it. Private security is a tool that corporations and the wealthy use to terrorize the rest of us, the working class, who cannot afford to rent security of our own.
Monterrey Security has existed for less than two decades, and in that time, they have terrorized working class people to protect property for capitalists. The mayor hiring them to patrol during protests was no different. Lightfoot paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to add extra guards from a company with a horrible past. We will not allow this to happen again.