Foe of new Camden business curfew calls it ‘lazy way of fighting crime’

A business curfew set to go into effect this week in Camden is headed to court. Opponents, who filed suit last week, are scheduled to appear in Superior Court Tuesday to argue against the curfew, which requires businesses to close by 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Supporters of the curfew say it will help crack down on crime occurring near businesses that are open late.

Longtime Camden activist Frank Fulbrook opposes the curfew. Along with the owners of several restaurants, he’s seeking a temporary restraining order to stop it.

“You can’t arbitrarily take away somebody’s freedom to operate economically both as a seller and a buyer of goods and services–there has to be a compelling reason,” Fulbrook said. “It’s done under the police power to regulate things in the interest of health and safety. But we don’t think a business curfew promotes health or safety. It’s kind of a lazy way of fighting crime.”

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Fulbrook has successfully challenged the city’s curfew efforts before.

“The businesses are saying look, we’re not the ones committing the crime. We’re doing legitimate business, selling people products and services that they really want,” he said. “There’s no reason that a business shouldn’t be able to operate as long as they’re not the ones committing the crime.”

Camden’s City Attorney Marc Riondino declined to comment on the pending case.

He has said the curfew differs from previous efforts because the legislation has specific exceptions for gas stations and emergency services such as pharmacies.

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