CHICAGO (CBS) — The additional security doors at various Fifth Third banks around the city will be coming down. Protesters said security measures at nearly a dozen Fifth Third Bank branches in Chicago were racist for their presence in predominantly African American neighborhoods.
The first extra security door disappeared Wednesday.
“I think it’s a victory of respect for the community,” said Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, knowing what he called the “jail-like doors” are gone from the Auburn Gresham Fifth Third branch.
“You couldn’t move to the inner door ‘til they buzzed you in, like some kind of criminal,” he said.
In November, customers were greeted by red and green lights, along with a metal detector.
Pfleger and his followers protested in the fall.
Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati. Chief Administrative Officer Teresa Tanner visited the South side branch.
“She saw it and said this is disrespectful. She felt very bad about it,” Pfleger recalled.
Bank customers can now come and go form the South Ashland branch without getting stuck between the doors. Regular customers say they are very pleased.
“Man, it was confusing. I’ve had different stuff in my pockets and set off alarms,” said a customer. “Sometimes, when you were in a rush, it was a headache, trapped in between the doors.”
The security door system has been replaced by an armed guard.
About five miles away at a branch on East 79th Street, the double door and red light/greenlight system is still in place.
Fifth Third Bank says it will go away in the near future, along with the doors at all branches.
“We just want business to treat our community with respect. If you don’t want to, just leave,” Pfleger said.
Pfleger said when Tanner visited the South side branch in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, the outside of the bank appeared barren and lifeless. The area is now landscaped with colorful flowers.