The Philadelphia Business Journal reports the bill which passed 14-3 would phase out bullet proof glass from convenience stores which separates merchants from its customers. It also cracks down on liquor stores which violate their liquor licenses by selling shots of alcohol and failing to follow requirements to sell hot food and provide proper seating.
Some Asian American merchants vigorously opposed the phase out of bullet proof glass saying it would put their lives in danger, but said they did not oppose the rest of the bill.
The opposition to the phase out of bullet proof glass which would happen no earlier than 2021 has made some feel uncomfortable. Some feel an undercurrent of anti-Black racism in the Asian American community has emerged, while others said the measure was dividing people of color.
“There’s a deep history here of poverty, immigration, cultural misunderstanding,” said Chi-Ser Tran, who testified against the bill and whose parents own a deli in North Philly. “This bill has provoked a lot of those feelings even more than ever before. Communities of color pitted against each other. I don’t want to see this infighting, it’s not good for the city,” he told the Biz Journal.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass who authored the bill emphasized the target was lawlessness.
“They aren’t delis,” City and State Pennsylvania reported Bass said during the debate. “They are places to buy drugs to get high … indoor open-air drug markets masquerading as restaurants.”
“This bill is bigger than Plexiglas, said community activist Asa Khalif. “It is about accountability and responsibility, two words stop-and-go owners have never had to live up to. This bill is long overdue. Black people and I, along with the leaders of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania, support it 100 percent.”
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