Cindy Bass, a councilwoman from Philadelphia’s 8th District, has deemed bulletproof glass RACIST! She has filed a bill which could make store owners remove their bulletproof Plexiglas in certain areas of town.
So perhaps not in so many words but we know how to read between the freaking lines… According to Bass, having this robbery deterrent (<< my words), in stores is an “insult and an indignity”.
Bass says the windows only foster a sense that the establishment – more specifically, its clientele – is dangerous. And that too many of those stores masquerade as eateries when their biggest sales draw is alcohol, feeding vices in the city’s struggling neighborhoods.
“It’s an indignity” to buy a meal through such a window, she said.
The debate is likely to gain steam Monday, when hundreds of merchants and advocates are expected to protest before a Council committee hearing on the matter. Bubbling beneath are undercurrents about class, race, and how far the city can go in telling business owners how to operate.
Bass has proposed legislation that would force beer deli owners to remove thick plexiglass counter windows. Her bill has five co-sponsors.
Yale sociology professor Elijah Anderson, who has written extensively on Philadelphia’s urban environment said the plexiglass window sets up “a symbol of distrust” in neighborhoods where many African Americans live.
“Of course some people are bad, but most people who come to that window are good, and they’re not trusted either. That angers, alienates them,” said Anderson, who previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania. “They know they’re civil, honest people. They’re hit with this symbol of distrust and it works on your psyche in subtle ways. You know that you’re devalued as a customer.”
But Adam Xu, 54, chairman of the Asian American Licensed Beverage Association of Philadelphia, said the protective window should be a business owner’s choice. His association represents 217 beer delis in the city, about 70 percent of which are owned by people who are ethnic Chinese and another 20 percent of Korean descent.
“Most of our businesses,” he said, “are in not-as-safe neighborhoods.”
Bass said she certainly isn’t aiming to put lives at risk.
“I would never want to be part of a bill that would put somebody in jeopardy,” said Bass, whose district includes Germantown, Nicetown, Tioga, Logan, and parts of North Philly. She said the proprietors could hire security guards and install surveillance cameras.
“These businesses in particular have skirted and flouted the law for years,” said Bass.
She said the bill stemmed from constituents’ complaints about stop-and-go stores being nuisances that sell alcohol nearly round the clock.
“My interest is to see restaurants where a family can go down and have a meal,” she said, adding that she has been “flabbergasted” by the image of workers serving food through a window as if customers were “in prison.”