Judge halts Camden from enforcing business curfew

At the last minute, a judge has granted opponents of a Camden business curfew a temporary restraining order — blocking the crime-ridden city from enforcing the law.  Starting tonight the city was going to force businesses to close at 11 p.m. or midnight on weekends.

Supporters of the business curfew have said it will improve life for Camden residents, by shuttering businesses that can attract late night loitering and drug dealing.

Longtime community activist Frank Fulbrook and a group of Camden business owners are suing the city to stop them from enforcing the business curfew.  He said by pursuing the curfew’s enforcement, Camden leaders are attacking legitimate honest business people who serve a significant late-night customer base.

“They’re attacking business that are not a problem in Camden,” said Fulbrook.  “The crime problem in Camden is from the drug dealers.  We have 175 open air drug markets in Camden.  That’s the problem that’s destroying the city is the open air drug markets — not restaurants and convenience stores.”

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Helene Pierson is the Executive Director, of Heart of Camden, a community development corporation that renovates homes.  She supports the business curfew and said late-night business hours are a regular topic of discussion at community meetings.  She hopes the curfew will be enforced.

“It can’t just be something on the books, its got to be enforced,” said Pierson, “and it’ll be great for the neighborhoods.  Within the last 20 days we had a murder outside our local Chinese food store.  We know that not too much happens during the times that are later.”

In a written statement, city spokesman Robert Corrales called the court’s ruling disappointing.  He said the city looks forward to pursuing a full hearing, as quickly as possible.


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