Evanston’s City Council voted this week to table until next year a proposal to ban local shops from going cashless.
The vote came less than a month before the 10-year anniversary of a crime in which two brothers — Azim and Mobeen Hakeem — were found shot to death in their downtown Evanston tobacco shop.
Ross was shot to death by Evanston police on Dec. 13, 2013, after he pointed a gun at them outside Bennison’s Bakery as he walked way after holding up the then Chase Bank branch on Grove Street.
Merchants who have opposed the cashless ban this year have cited robbery fears as one of their main reasons for going cashless. The anniversary of the murder of the Hakeem brothers provides evidence those fears are not purely hypothetical.
During City Council debate Monday, the sponsor of the cashless ban, Ald. Devon Reid (8th), proposed cutting the penalty for violating it from $1,000 to $100 and allowing merchants to refuse to accept cash during overnight hours.
But that amendment failed for lack of a second.
Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) said the city should address the discriminatory impact of going cashless on the estimated 5 percent of residents who lack bank accounts — but the cashless ban wasn’t the way to do it.
She said “cash-to-card” opportunities are becoming much more prevalent and there are many ways to address the problem without inflicting harm on small businesses.
Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) said she’d heard from a lot of merchants in her ward objecting to the proposed ban and agreed there should be other remedies to the problem.
The motion to table the proposal to the Council’s Jan. 8, 2024, meeting carried on a 5-3 vote. The three council members voting against it appeared to favor killing the cashless ban proposal outright.