A Marine veteran standing guard outside an Armed Forces Recruiting Center has been told he is no longer welcome and ordered off the property.
Matthew Benack took up a sentry post outside the Center in Jacksonville, Fla., in response to the deadly attack on five members of the U.S. military last week in Chattanooga, Tenn., WNCT reported.
Police said the vet was within his constitutional rights to have a loaded weapon outside the center as long as the unidentified property owner gave permission.
Benack said the owner, represented by Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners, initially allowed him to be there, but changed her mind. He was asked to leave Tuesday by the property management firm.
A representative, Grayson Powell, said in a statement:
“We value the sacrifices our armed forces make for this country each day and hold all branches of the military in the highest esteem. We take the security of the recruiters in Westwood Village extremely seriously and are in communications with them about the best way to work together to ensure their safety and the safety of all of our tenants. Yet having an armed civilian who is not known to us, the recruiters or the police arrive to stand vigil in a busy shopping center has the potential to create an unsafe environment, and it is our responsibility to ensure both our tenants’ and customers’ safety.”
Benack took to social media to express his disappointment in the decision, and to ask supporters not to protest against the property owner.
He posted this message on his Facebook page Tuesday evening:
BAD NEWS EVERYONE!!!!! I have now this morning been told that the Owner has changed her mind because she thought I was part of the recruiting station…….REALLY what is the difference I served honorably and went through all procedures possible and now she has second thoughts GET REAL LADY! PLEASE DO NOT PROTEST it is private property to include the parking lot and you will be arrested! I thank everyone for there overwhelming support and willingness to help! I am truly sorry something good has turned for the worst!!!!