Hamid Shahabi has been ordered to remove a mannequin dressed as a soldier from outside his window because it's supposedly giving local bank staff flashbacks of an armed robbery this past winter.
Shahabi, who owns an army surplus store in Bolton, said "Darren" has stood watch over the neighborhood for five years. He refuses to take the mannequin down, despite facing a fine.
According to the BBC, Shahabi says Darren attracts donations for a British charity, Help for Heroes. He named the mannequin Darren because it looks like a friend in the army — named Darren, one would suspect — so he dressed it in camouflage fatigues to commemorate troops in Afghanistan.
Lloyds bank was robbed in February of this year, although a spokeswoman for the bank refused to comment whether the mannequin was actually having any effect on the workers. However, a spokeswoman for the Bolton Council, who is apparently also a practicing psychologist, says this is causing all sorts of flashbacks for the workers who were in the bank when it was robbed five months ago.
However, the Bolton Council said that when a member visited Hamadi's shop, Darren was wearing dark clothing and a black balaclava.
Shahabi told the BBC, "The local kids love him, they often come round to play with him, we get a lot of passing trade from him too. He's a good-looking chap. I don't understand why anyone would be scared of him, but we have received a complaint from the local bank."
I think the Bolton Council went about this the wrong way. By ordering Shahabi to remove the mannequin, it's put him on the defensive. Because the bank didn't have the courtesy or intestinal fortitude to ask Shahabi directly, they've made themselves look like a bunch of whiners.
If I were Shahabi I wouldn't remove the mannequin under those circumstances either.
Which means, of course, someone is going to steal him.
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