Man Who Defended 7-Eleven From Looters Speaks With KSL
Jun 2, 2020, 9:05 PM | Updated: 11:36 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The man seen on video telling people to stop looting a 7-Eleven during a protest that turned violent downtown talked to KSL about the experience.
“This isn’t the answer. This isn’t how we do it,” he was heard telling protestors.
It was a dangerous drama playing out in the convenience store in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday night. Had it not been for the efforts of a lifelong Utahn, a nightmare scenario could have become much worse.
The sights and sounds of the peaceful demonstrators’ message ran amok, when the memory of George Floyd, the anger of police brutality and the frustration of being ignored was lost in the rush of stealing, looting and damaging a store.
This isn’t a looting story – it’s a success story.
Bystander Ken Akers saw something – and said something – and saved something. In this case, the father of three boys saved someone’s store that was under attack.
“Once they rushed up, they had bottles, loose rags, throwing at windows, breaking glass, glass was crashing to the ground,” he said.
Akers was watching the events unfold from his truck. When he heard the store clerk cry for help, his instinct as a former military policeman kicked in.
“I ran up to the door and tried to grab some people along the way,” he said. “I didn’t have an idea of what I was going to do. I said, ‘You just have to stop this. This is not what a moment is supposed to look like, we’re supposed to be educating people.’”
As the conflict continued, Akers came face-to-face with two men who entered the store with the look of trouble in their eyes.
“I just tried to calm him down. He yelled that I need to tell the police that, and that’s when I became emotional,” said Akers. “For some reason, he turned around and he and the other guy walked away. When they moved, the rest of the group started to follow.”
Akers saved the store, and in his own way, he helped preserve the message that the original peaceful protest began with. He chose insight instead of inciting.
“Criminalizing a movement and feeling sorry for a particular situation is not the answer. We have to spread love. We have to spread peace. That’s what I tried to educate them on that day,” he said. “In Utah we have a unique diversity. What this is all triggering, it’s just not us. I can’t speak for everybody. We want to spread the message of peace, love and compassion.”
Akers said if he could, he would love to sit down those who rushed the 7-Eleven and the store clerk – also a minority – and help educate them on how to focus their feelings to create positive change, and not just more trouble.
Many hope his message resonates in Salt Lake City.