Philadelphia's Public Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill on Monday to ban shop owners from protecting their stores with bulletproof plexiglass.
Philadelphia 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass said that having to see plexiglass represents an “indignity” to her African American constituents and should therefore be banned. Bass is the driving force behind the bill.
Fox News reported that Philadelphia is one step closer to getting rid of bulletproof glass in many of its small businesses. The ban on protection against looters and rioters is being presented “as part of a larger effort to crack down on loitering, public urination and potential drug sales”, but it remains unclear how the ban could contribute to the crackdown.
The city’s Public Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill on Monday enabling the Department of Licenses and Inspections to regulate the bullet-resistant barricades that stand between customers and cash registers, according to FOX29.
According to the bill: “No establishment required to obtain a Large Establishment license … shall erect or maintain a physical barrier that requires the persons serving the food either to open a window or other aperture or to pass the food through a window or other aperture, in order to hand the food to a customer inside the establishment.”
It also calls for larger stores to have bathrooms for customers, creating an additional security problem. The ban has triggered a fierce backlash from worried shopkeepers.
Store owners told FOX29 they feel discriminated against, and numerous shopkeepers are among those protesting the bill.
“If the glass comes down, the crime rate will rise and there will be lots of dead bodies,” Rich Kim, owner of a food outlet said. “The most important thing is safety and the public’s safety.”
But Cindy Bass is more worried about fighting possible “microaggressions” against African Americans than ongoing violent attacks against shop owners. The New York Times recently reported that microaggressions may cause elevated blood pressure.
Philadelphia consistently ranks above the national average in terms of crime, especially in the occurence of violent offenses.
It has the highest violent crime rate of the ten American cities with a population greater than 1 million residents. The city has been included in real estate analytics company NeighborhoodScout’s “Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America” list every year since it has been compiled.
Much of the crime is concentrated in the North, West, and Southwest black areas of the city.
“The highest motive we’re seeing is arguments between people … which can be difficult to anticipate,” Philadelphia police spokesman Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said.
He told NBC news that these arguments were not necessarily between friends, relatives or even people who knew each other. They were “disputes that turn violent,” he said.
During the presidential campaign season, President Donald Trump accused Philadelphia of skyrocketing crime rates, but Mayor Jim Kenney bristled, calling Trump a purveyor of fake facts. But murders in the city were up by 20 percent this year.