BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Neighborhood stores in Bedford-Stuyvesant have joined a growing number of businesses across the city to post a controversial sign banning anyone wearing hoodie sweatshirts or face masks from entry.
At least five businesses along Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street have hung the “DO NOT ENTER WITH HOODIE OR MASK. IF SO YOU ARE NOW TRESPASSING” signs in their storefronts, in what critics call racial profiling and supporters call a safe way to deter crime.
Among the local stores that have hung the signs are 1017 Deli and Mc Mickel’s Grocery Store on Bedford Avenue, as well as Happy Deli Grocery, Boys and Girls Grocery Deli and Fulton Food Plaza on Fulton Street.
Jose Mendez, owner of 1017 Deli, said that while the store hasn’t had a violent or criminal incident in ten years, he saw no harm in putting up the sign.
“I don’t really see a reason to put it up, but I also don’t see a reason not to,” Mendez said. “If it helps, it helps.”
The controversial signs, which are available for a $10 “donation,” were created by Joe Stark, a Philadelphia man who said he’s in the process of launching his own security company.
The notices have drawn the ire of some customers and employees, who say the postings are unnecessary and offensive.
“Yeah, there are gangs in the area and shootings to avoid, but for this sign, it’s not that serious,” said Anthony Moore, who works at Boys and Girls Grocery on Fulton and Utica Avenue.
The business, which is located right across the street from Boys and Girls High School, serves dozens of students a day, with the occasional scuffle outside the store.
Though Moore disagrees with the sign’s presence, he said the deli’s owner may have been prompted to put up the warning to discourage similar activity.
Still, locals like Jerome Coleman, who lives near the Utica Avenue deli, say it’s a two-way street.
“It’s sad that it’s had to come down to these signs,” Coleman said. “Back in the day, people just came in and robbed you. Now, they rob you and want to shoot you. I don’t blame these stores for putting them up.
“But if guys around here have a problem with it, it’s really not that hard to put your hood down. If kids here just carry themselves with respect, maybe we wouldn’t need these signs.”