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.

The brothers’ wallets had been taken by a robber who, months later, was revealed to be the same man, Kevin Ross, who had robbed several banks in the area.

Robber Kevin Ross lies on the sidewalk outside Bennison’s Bakery moments after being shot by Evanston police.

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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting that Evanston knows 5% of residents do not have bank accounts. Do they know why? Instead of regulating how merchants do business, it would be better to help the 5% who want bank accounts, to get bank accounts.

  2. Banks are notoriously predatory for those without sufficient or with sporadic income, and such individuals are wise to avoid such institutions. But this is not the merchants’ problem to solve. Instead, we need good cashless solutions which don’t involve banks.

    1. Actually banks lose money on the majority of bank accounts held by very low income/very low asset people (banks need these accounts to meet Federal requirements). Banks rightly consider this a community service.

      What is highly predatory product from financial institutions are the credit cards with high rates offered to low income/low asset individuals who also have poor credit.

        1. I read your Harvard article and it is pretty shoddy and does not refute that low income/low asset accounts are largely unprofitable as a whole. “Banks earn billions from overdraft fee” – this statement implies profit but does not weigh the $ from the fees noted against cost to the bank of the product the fees are attached to, to give us an overall profitability figure. They should be telling us in aggregate, the profitability of these accounts with and without the overdraft fees. How many billions would be lost on low income/low asset accounts without the overdraft fees? Shoddy narrative journalism by Harvard.

          As a side note, I myself choose to continuously pay many overdraft fees (paired with an overdraft credit account) because I am too busy (or lazy?) to balance my checking account. Allowing overdrafts with a fee is a service offered in alternative to closing the account of the repeat over-drafter.

          1. Can you provide a link to the data you are using to support your assertion that the billions collected by banks on overdrafts do not constitute profit?

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *