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Bulletproof glass protecting city store clerks may have to come down — over 'indignity' to customers

A bill headed through Philadelphia City Hall would force businesses to remove bulletproof glass that protects employees in order to save customers from such an "indignity," according to a city councilwoman. (Image source: WXTF-TV video screenshot)

A bill headed through Philadelphia City Hall would force businesses to remove bulletproof glass protecting employees inside stores.

What's the reasoning here?

  • Councilwoman Cindy Bass — a Democrat who offered the bill — told WTXF-TV she's concerned about shoppers' feelings.
  • "We want to make sure that there isn't this sort of indignity, in my opinion, to serving food through a plexiglass only in certain neighborhoods," Bass told the station.

Image source: WXTF-TV video screenshot

  • Her so-called "Stop and Go" bill more broadly places controls on small stores that sell alcohol, very little food and are the source of trouble in her district, Bass added to WTXF.
  • "Right now," she told the station, "the plexiglass has to come down."

What are store owners saying?

  • The owner of Broad Deli said the bulletproof glass in his store was installed after a shooting and that it saved his mother-in-law from a knife attack, WTXF reported.

Image source: WTXF-TV video screenshot

  • "If the glass comes down, the crime rate will rise and there will be lots of dead bodies," deli owner Rich Kim told the station.

Image source: WTXF-TV video screenshot

  • Kim's family has run the deli — which sells soda, snacks, meals and cans of beer — for 20 years, and Kim resents the accusation that stores like his attract trouble, WTXF said. In fact, he told the station that police response is often slow.
  • Mike Choe runs a nonprofit supporting Korean-owned businesses and plans on raising $100,000 to fight the Bass bill, WTXF reported.
  • Choe told the station that the bill "targets Korean Americans" and will "endanger" them.

Image source: WTXF-TV video screenshot

How did Bass respond?

  • When informed of the accusation that her bill targets Korean Americans, Bass told WTXF that was "absolutely not" the case. "I find that offensive," she added to the station.
  • Bass said stores could install more security cameras and use security guards in place of the bulletproof glass, the station said.
  • According to her bio, Bass "served as a committed delegate to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 for the Democratic National Convention."
  • She represents Philadelphia's 8th District, which includes Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown, Nicetown, Tioga, Logan, and parts of North Philadelphia.

This writer's perspective

Bass is to be commended for fighting establishments that attract crime and other problems in city. But the portion of her bill that would eliminate bulletproof glass — a sensible protection for employees — has no clear connection to her broader proposal.

And Bass' complaint that customers suffer "indignity" because of the bulletproof glass is nothing short of ridiculous. By the same token, don't security cameras and security guards also push "indignity"? Aren't they signals to customers that they aren't necessarily trusted to abide by the law? Of course, she doesn't have to pay for more security guards and cameras.

In the end, Bass' reasons for eliminating bulletproof glass in her city's businesses is yet another example of a creeping, widespread cultural movement that legislates against hurt feelings and coddles easily offended citizens. Hopefully Philly folks will fight against taking down bulletproof glass in city stores.

(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)

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