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City Mandates Small Restaurants Hire Armed Guards...or They Must Close Down Early

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"It would cost me, I can't afford it."

A new Newark, New Jersey, city council law will require small restaurants to have an armed security guard posted at night. The move -- which is already yielding controversy -- comes after William, Johnson, an off-duty police officer was killed in a drive-by shooting at the Texas Fried Chicken and Pizza restaurant back in May. Mail Online writes:

Mr Johnson, 45, a single father raising two daughters, was off-duty and unarmed when a pair of assailants fired into the Lyons Avenue restaurant from a slow-rolling car.

He was apparently caught in the crossfire of a gang dispute.

This new regulation, which passed unanimously, says that any restaurant that serves 15 or fewer people must hire an armed guard after 9 p.m. If they do not comply or if paying someone to stand guard is not a financial possibility, food establishments must close by 10 p.m. each evening. Reuters has more:

"If they want to stay open that late, they should provide security. If not, they should close," said Councilman Ras Baraka, who wrote the bill, in a telephone interview.

"These restaurants who serve 15 or less people, walk-in eateries where you get your food and you leave, they are havens for criminal activity," said Keith Hamilton, an aide to Baraka.

WABC-TV has more:

While this ordinance was clearly passed to keep citizens safe, it is surely a burden on small businesses who may not have the funds to pay a non-service related staff member. Larger, sit-down establishments likely have more funds and would more readily be able to make such hires. But, they are exempt from the law. Some business owners are already responding -- and quite negatively. New York City's ABC affiliate reports:

"With this order, he'll take us out of business, that's what he's doing," said Jamil Nahiam, owner of two late-night eating establishments [one of which the shooting took place outside of].

"It would cost me, I can't afford it," he added.

The controversial measure is set to go into effect in 30 days. Newark Mayor Cory Booker has no plans to veto the council's measure.

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