Philadelphia’s Chi­nese restau­rants im­per­iled by crime, re­stricted hours Wil­liam Hen­nelly

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - Con­tact the writer at williamhen­nelly@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Philadelphia is a tough place to do business for Chi­nese take­out restau­rant own­ers. While the restau­rants have been cop­ing with cur­tailed business stem­ming from a city or­di­nance that re­quires them to close at 11 pm, Asian business own­ers have been men­aced by gun­men and robbed in the past few months.

“The Philadelphia Po­lice Depart­ment is ask­ing for the pub­lic’s as­sis­tance to iden­tify and lo­cate the sus­pect for mul­ti­ple home in­va­sion/rob­beries in north­west and south­west di­vi­sions,” the po­lice web­site says.

“North­west and South­west De­tec­tive Di­vi­sions are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a pat­tern of 11 home in­va­sions of Asian-owned busi­nesses be­tween May 3 and Aug 1, where the sus­pects and method of the crimes are the same.

“In many of the in­ci­dents, the sus­pects break into the closed busi­nesses where the res­i­dences are at­tached and tie the oc­cu­pants while threat­en­ing and rob­bing them at gun­point tak­ing money, cig­a­rettes, jew­elry and elec­tron­ics.

Philly­po­lice.com posted sur­veil­lance video from sev­eral of the in­ci­dents show­ing the sus­pects.

On Mon­day, close to 200 business own­ers met in Chi­na­town to hear from po­lice, in a meet­ing or­ga­nized by the Greater Philadelphia Chi­nese Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion, philadelphia.cb­slo­cal.com re­ported.

“Right now, all the restau­rant own­ers, in­clud­ing my­self, we’re liv­ing in fear, a lot of fear and pres­sure,” said Chi­nese restau­rant owner Ling Lin, the web­site said.

On June 29, Ghi-Ming Chen said his restau­rant was bro­ken into and he and a friend were tied up at gun­point. “They took all of our be­long­ings, all of our cash, they took ev­ery­thing,” he said.

Lieu­tenant John Walker of the Philadelphia PD said most of the break-ins took place be­tween 4 and 6 am, and as many as four sus­pects are in­volved.

“The psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma is huge, so we’re work­ing with the FBI to get vic­tim ser­vices peo­ple out here work­ing with the com­mu­nity,” Walker said, ac­cord­ing to philadelphia.cb­slo­cal.com.

Zhong Gul Yang, 64, who has owned a take­out restau­rant for 16 years, is look­ing to sell the North Philadelphia business, philly.com re­ported.

In 2005, the city adopted an or­di­nance that pre­vents com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments, par­tic­u­larly take­out restau­rants, from stay­ing open past 11 pm in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

The stores were be­com­ing a “haven for drug ac­tiv­ity and crime”, the or­di­nance says.

Yang’s best time for business was be­tween mid­night and 2 am.

He had to lay off work­ers but has not found a buyer for the restau­rant yet. Yang is a mem­ber of the restau­rant as­so­ci­a­tion, which was formed af­ter the or­di­nance went into ef­fect. The as­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber­ship has more than 300 Chi­nese restau­rant own­ers.

City Coun­cil­man David Oh is work­ing to amend the or­di­nance, which he said “seems like scape­goat­ing”, philly.com re­ported.

John Stan­ford, spokesman for the Philadelphia PD, said take­out restau­rants “give peo­ple per­pet­u­at­ing crime a place to hang out, a place to set up shop, [and] that can lead to some­one be­ing robbed, some­one get­ting shot.”

“If you look at a lo­ca­tion that’s had a num­ber of shoot­ings or other in­ci­dents, you see that go down when the store is closed,” he told philly.com.

That may be the case, but the restau­rants ap­pear to be noth­ing more than in­no­cent by­standers.

Yingzhang Lin, pres­i­dent of the restau­rant as­so­ci­a­tion, said the fo­cus should be on mak­ing neigh­bor­hoods safer, and said his as­so­ci­a­tion has con­ducted crime-preven­tion sem­i­nars, philly.com re­ported.

In Jan­uary 2012, a holdup gun­man fa­tally shot Xiang Huang, 27, in the chest, while his wife, who was hold­ing their baby daugh­ter, was a few feet away. The crime oc­curred at the cou­ple’s take­out restau­rant, Jin House, in North­east Philadelphia.

As if the crime and the re­stricted hours weren’t enough, on July 26 a mo­torist crashed into a Chi­nese restau­rant in South Philly.

WIKI­ME­DIA COM­MONS

The Friend­ship Gate at 10th Street in Philadelphia’s Chi­na­town, pic­tured in 2013.

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