“The Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to remove bulletproof glass from the windows of some local businesses, despite a backlash from shop owners who cited safety concerns.
The council voted 14-3 to approve legislation that could eventually force business owners to remove the protective glass outside their storefronts that some lawmakers believe operate as drug fronts and facilitate loitering and public urination, Fox 29 reported.
Storeowners on Thursday pleaded to keep the bulletproof barriers on their storefronts.
“I was the victim of a robbery when I was ten years old, and I don’t want that to happen again,” one storeowner told Fox 29.
Another shopkeeper, through an interpreter, said: “If you took the bulletproof glass from our store, there will be more people die.”
City councilman David Oh had similar sentiments, calling the possible outcome of the situation “worse … than what we have today.”
“If we take down the safety glass, they’re not changing their business model. They’re not moving. What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today,” Oh said ahead of Thursday’s vote.
Asian store owners like Jeff Liu told Philly.com that the bulletproof glass afforded them a small measure of protection from criminals.
“You can ask us to cook food, no problem, to put in bathrooms, no problem, to put out seats, no problem,” said Liu, who legally emigrated to the United States from China in 1985. “The problem is the protective glass. Because without the glass, maybe one day I would get killed.”
Yale sociology professor Elijah Anderson, argued that the barriers were a “symbol of distrust” in black neighborhoods by Asian store owners.