Loyola and Northwestern University students and faculty members, in tandem with left-wing activists in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, are determined to shut down a vintage shop owned by a young woman in response to her and her fiancè’s “controversial” and “dangerous” conservative beliefs.
The controversy started last week when leftist activist Karen Rose Gilbert performed a background audit on owner Anna Skalicki and her fiancé, Xander Kazanowski, who helps run the two-month-old business. Gilbert told the Loyola Phoenix that she researches the owners of all new neighborhood businesses in order to ensure that they’re “safe” for the north side’s “queer community.”
Upon finding so-called “hateful” social media posts on the fiancè’s Facebook page, Gilbert and her fellow leftists from both Loyola and Northwestern as well as the local community decided to stage a series of protests.
They showed up chanting and holding signs outside of the small business for hours on April 30, returned the following Sunday, and intend to continue protesting and “educating” the community about the couple’s conservative values until they’re forced to close up shop.
“This sort of attitude — that everyone must adhere to one viewpoint or else be forced out of the community — is born on college campuses and needs to stop,” said Marco Useche, an alumnus of Loyola and Young America’s Foundation’s student programs.
During the first protest, some protestors went so far as to steal from the store, Kazanowski alleged in a recording he posted to Facebook. Another protestor, who identified herself as a pre-law professor, spat on Kazanowski while his camera was rolling.
“He’s a danger to the community!” leftist activist Gerardo Marciano can be heard crying in the full-length recording.
Nell Seggerson, a Loyola alumnus and Chicago Public Schools teacher, told the Phoenix that he is among those who will continue spending his Sunday afternoons standing on the sidewalk outside the storefront until it’s forced to close.
Despite the mounting pressure, the conservative couple is determined to keep their shop open for business without reneging on their values. “For some reason that I cannot wrap my mind around, truth and reason have gone out the window, and they will attempt to vilify you for speaking it,” Kazanowski told the New Guard. “We will continue to speak freely without fear. And I hope more good people decide to do the same,” he added.