AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — A battle keeps brewing between a store owner and some in his community, and now the store owner says some picketing his store are going further by actually following him.
It’s freezing, but J.L. Harris, the organizer of the protest, keeps hitting the pavement.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Colder And Blustery Sunday Night
“I’m still here for the simple fact that we’re still having problems,” he said.
Harris and others have been protesting outside the Kwik Store on Lake in Aurora since last month. At issue is the owner requiring customers to lower face coverings when buying alcohol and cigarettes.
“It’s bigger now,” Harris said.
He said the six-week demonstration at the store is now about the lack of respect he claims minorities get when shopping there.
“I don’t think George is a bad guy. I just think he and we need an understanding,” Harris said of store owner George Galanis.
Galanis said Harris keeps making threats. He points to a video where Harris is recorded saying he has been following Galanis.
“George, we’ve followed you down to the Dollar Store,” he can be heard saying on the video.READ MORE: Shedd Aquarium Asks Restaurants To Help Keep Plastic Out Of Great Lakes
“When somebody says we follow you around, I have reason to believe I could be in danger,” Galanis said.
Galanis turned the video over to police for harassment.
“For some reason they like to protest,” he said. “There’s a correct way to protest without following someone to different places.”
“The only time I ever called the police is when my life was threatened,” Harris said.
Aurora police tell CBS 2 between Dec. 19 and Feb. 1 officers responded to the store 21 times on 16 different days due to this ongoing dispute.
While Harris holds signs outside, Galanis posted his own signs inside labeling protesters as thugs.
“I didn’t start this first,” he said. “Secondly these people saying types of stuff about me.”
“This is why we’re protesting,” Harris said.”Because we’re tired of that. We’re not all thugs and bad people.”MORE NEWS: Outbound Kennedy Expressway Ramp To Montrose Avenue Reopens Monday
Aurora police say they are aware of the reports made from both sides about threats, but none of them have been substantiated. Police say it appears to be nothing more than a civil matter.